US California gets ready for more wildfires and power outages as the weather refuses to cooperate
California regulator sanctions utility over power outages
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's utility regulator is issuing a series of sanctions against Pacific Gas and Electric for what it calls "failures in execution" during the largest planned power shut-off in state history to avoid wildfires. California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer says the utility must have a goal of restoring power within 12 hours instead of its current 48 hours, minimize the scale of outages and improve communication.PG&E last week took the unprecedented step of cutting power to more than 700,000 customers, affecting nearly 2 million Californians.
Just as firefighters got a grip on a blaze that, other Californians are at risk of unpredictable wildfires this week.
About 209,000 customers could have their power shut off this week mitigate the risk, Pacific Gas & Electric said.
"The potential safety shutoff is planned for varying start times depending on location beginning Wednesday evening," the company said.
The power shutoff could affect 15 counties in the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay, including Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Sierra, Sonoma, Sutter, and Yuba counties, PG&E said.
Southern California back on fire watch as dangerous winds return; red flag warnings expanded
Southern California is back on fire watch this weekend amid winds and warm temperatures, with Southern California Edison warning of possible preventive power outages. A small brush fire broke out Saturday morning in the Hollywood Hills off Stanley Hills Drive but was quickly extinguished by firefighters, who said there were no winds at the time. But that is expected to change throughout the region. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for Santa Barbara County's south coast and mountain regions that remains in effect through Sunday night. The Real fire near Goleta started Thursday and burned 420 acres. It is now 50% contained.
Customers will be notified by texts, emails and automated phone calls about 48 hours in advance.
PG&E's announcement comes as firefighters grapple with a busy wildfire season.
The Little Mountain wildfire burning in San Bernardino County has damaged at least three homes and injured at least one firefighter, the San Bernardino County Fire District said.
Another 40 homes are still threatened by the fire, which has been difficult to contain due to high winds and sloping terrain.
Windy conditions in the San Bernardino area will likely continue through Tuesday, the fire district said.
On Monday, the Pacific Palisades fire torched 40 acres, Los Angeles Fire Chief Patrick Butler said.
Many Californians are grappling with the reality that wildfires can strike at any time.
"You go into denial immediately, saying, 'I hope it's not what I think it is,'" Charlie Lyons said after he noticed the plumes of smoke while hiking Monday. "We're in a terrible cycle right now."
His daughter, also named Charlie, said she feared for the worst.
"I immediately started packing my stuff, my valuables," 22-year-old Charlie Lyons said. "My friend last year lost her house in Malibu. You can't predict what Mother Nature is going to do."
How to keep your devices charged during the PG&E power outage .
If you're in an area of California scheduled to lose power, you can take some steps before and during the blackout to stretch your battery life.PG&E is cutting the power to avoid a repeat of last year, when its equipment was blamed for starting a fire in the California foothills.
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