PG&E to continue inspections, restore power as fires threaten state

With the specter of wildfire still fresh in the minds of Northern California residents, PG&E expects all of its customers to be returned to full power on Friday following a public safety power shut-off earlier in the week.

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Safety patrols and inspections continued during daylight hours on Thursday, according to a Business Wire press release. PG&E said more than 5,800 on-the-ground field personnel have been deployed and 42 helicopters staged in the impacted areas. Helicopter inspections may be impacted by the Kincade firefighting efforts in Sonoma County.

Once wind conditions improved Thursday morning, the utility company issued an “all clear” weather announcement at 9:45 a.m. for customers in San Mateo County and all counties south of Interstate 80 and will begin inspections in the area.

The only remaining county that has yet to receive power is Kern, where windy weather conditions are expected to continue until the afternoon. However, PG&E says it expects all customers to have power restored by Thursday night, pending any system damage.

However, PG&E says a broken jumper cable on a transmission line malfunctioned was discovered near the start of the 10,000-acre Kincade Fire that broke out in the Geyserville area in north Sonoma County late Wednesday night.

The transmission line in question had not been initially de-energized, with the malfunction and ensuing fire causing nearly 27,800 PG&E customers to lose power on Wednesday afternoon for safety as part of the public safety power shutoff event.

"Those transmission lines were not de-energized because forecast weather conditions, particularly wind speeds, did not trigger the PSPS protocol," PG&E said in a statement released Thursday night and obtained by SFGate.com. "The wind speeds of concern for transmission lines are higher than those for distribution."

Meanwhile in Southern California, authorities say they've ordered at least 40,000 people to evacuate as wind-driven fires rage near neighborhoods north of Los Angeles. Several homes burned Thursday as two fires fanned by powerful winds swept through dry brush to the edge of communities in the Santa Clarita area Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby says there is no containment of either blaze.

In addition to Santa Clarita, blazes also broke out Thursday in Sepulveda Basin, Castaic and Chiquito Canyon. Large portions of Los Angeles are under a red-flag fire warning due to the gusting Santa Ana winds, very low humidity and temperatures approaching triple digits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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