Oct. 11 (UPI) — Thousands of people in California were without power Monday as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. preemptively shut off service due to favorable fire weather.
PG&E said in a statement Sunday night that it would conduct a so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff” cutting power for approximately 25,000 customers in 20 counties beginning at 4 a.m. on Monday morning.
“This safety shutoff is due to a dry, offshore wind event expected to start Sunday night and bring wind gusts of up to 50 mph by Monday morning,” the utility said.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning affecting much of Northern California stating that gusty winds combined with dry conditions and fuels “will lead to critical fire weather conditions.”
Counties expected to be most impacted include Tehama with 5,342 customers, Solano at 4,561, and Lake with 4,008.
PG&E said it expects “minimal impact” to be felt by customers in the Bay Area and Central Valley.
The company faces charges alleging that its equipment sparked the 56,000-acre Zogg Fire that left four people dead and destroyed 204 buildings in 2020 and the Kincade Fire that burned 120 square miles in Sonoma County north of San Francisco in 2019.
Last year, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2018 Camp Fire in Northern California, acknowledging its neglected equipment sparked the fire that ripped through the town of Paradise.
The utility has also been on probation since it was found guilty in 2016 for safety violations in the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people the San Francisco Bay area.