Fires ravage California as utility companies plan power outages

Homes leveled by the Camp Fire line Valley Ridge Drive in Paradise Calif. on Monday Dec. 3 2018

Last year's Camp Fire leveled this neighborhood in Paradise

San Francisco-based PG&E said if it decides to implement the safety shutoff, it would begin turning power off early Wednesday morning. However, there have been many preliminary reports of vegetation-related damage to the company's equipment within the PSPS zones.

PG&E is "allowed to (shut off power) when conditions merit for safety", said Boyles. The Bay Area remains blacked out, however. The utility said 312,000 customers remained without power as of Friday morning.

On average, power outages amount to over $20 billion of lost revenue in the US annually. The high temperatures and winds predicted for inland areas of Southern California materialized mid-afternoon, when the driver of a commercial trash truck dumped the load to prevent the vehicle from catching fire.

Last November, PG&E's faulty power lines were determined to have sparked the deadliest wildfire in the state's modern history, which killed 86 and destroyed the town of Paradise. Only last month, PG&E reached an $11 billion settlement for claims arising from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires.

Flames heat up high power lines at the Saddleridge Fire on October 11, 2019 near Newhall, California.

About 800,000 customers will lose power, meaning around two million people will be affected in the planned PG&E outages. The area that includes the mobile home park still had its power when the fire occurred.

"With dry fuel conditions established, very critical fire weather conditions are expected with the potential for very rapid fire spread, long range spotting, and extreme fire behavior with any new fire ignitions", the agency said.

Several schools and colleges have been closed in the area as a result of the fires.

The Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter it is helping carry out evacuations and has declared a "citywide tactical alert". Terrazas said emergency officials received the first reports of the fire around 9 p.m. Thursday and that it was located near the 210 freeway at the Yarnell Street exit. The Saddleridge blaze has destroyed 7,542 acres in the state and is only 13 percent contained, according to the California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection.

On Wednesday, the PG&E Company extended the power shutdown to other customers in the Northern and Central California region in a measure targeted at preventing more fire outbreaks.

While we don't have to worry about an actual fire, risky weather conditions associated with the Saddleridge fire may have an impact on West Hollywood. The company was forced to make the decision earlier this week following concerns that the peak of the wildfire season could see thousands of homes set on fire, which can easily propagate due to the 45 miles-per-hour winds experienced in the region.

Another fire broke out in the hills south of San Bernardino with winds of up to 30 miles per hour hampering firefighters trying to protect buildings.

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