PG&E cuts power in Northern California to reduce wildfire risks

Pacific Gas & Electric on Friday said it will cut the electricity for roughly 1,600 customers in parts of Northern California that were considered “areas of extreme fire risk.”

The company unveiled its plan on Twitter, saying that it would start “proactively turning off power” around 6 a.m. on Saturday in parts of Napa, Solano and Yolo counties. The outage is expected to last at least through Saturday afternoon, the company said.

The maneuver was part of a public safety power shutoff intended to “help reduce the risk of wildfire” and ensure the safety of both people and building structures, according to a news release.

Following through on its plan, PG&E on Saturday tweeted that it had cut the power in the aforementioned areas.

The company on Friday said it was also keeping an eye on the weather in portions of the Sierra foothills, noting that “peak fire risk in these areas” was predicted from 9 p.m. Saturday through the following afternoon. Roughly 30,000 customers in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties could potentially have their power turned off as well, PG&E said.

The warning came as forecasters issued the year's first red flag warning of high fire danger because of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures in portions of the Central Valley and areas north of San Francisco.

“The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility," Michael Lewis, the senior vice president of Electric Operations at PG&E, said. "We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and our decision tonight to turn off power is to protect our communities experiencing extreme fire danger."

When the threat of severe weather is over, the company said it’ll send out teams to inspect the power lines. The power should typically be turned back on within 24 to 48 hours but it could take longer depending on the circumstances, it said.

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Fire officials announced last month that the Camp Fire that erupted in California last fall and became “the deadliest and most destructive” blaze in the state’s history was triggered by electrical transmission lines owned by PG&E.

The Camp Fire – which ignited near Pulga, Calif. – killed 85 civilians and injured numerous firefighters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.