A customer shops for groceries at La Tapatia Market during a blackout in Napa, Calif.as California utility giant PG&E carries out a wide scale intentional blackout to keep power lines from sparking blazes.
A shopping center in Oakland, California, was close to deserted on Thursday, October 10, after businesses closed amid a power shutoff that left thousands without electricity in an attempt to prevent wildfires.
Cutoffs began after midnight local time Wednesday, with the first phase impacting about 513,000 customers.
Police ordered evacuations early on Thursday as a fast-moving wildfire spread in the hills of a San Francisco Bay Area community. However, 32 customers in Santa Maria may be impacted, according to PG&E. It included more than 50,000 in northern Los Angeles County and almost 20,449 in Ventura County.
Shift supervisor James Quinn walks through a darkened CVS Pharmacy as downtown Sonoma, Ca., remains without power on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019.
The fire, which originated near Pulga in Northern California in November 2018, killed dozens. The town of Paradise was so devastated by the January fire that, by mid-July, only 2,034 residents - of almost 27,000 before the fire - were living in the city.
The utility company filed documents in a USA court seeking Chapter 11 reorganization citing hundreds of lawsuits from victims of the November Camp fire and others. A third group of claims is still working its way through state and federal courts.
PG&E plans to turn off power to all or parts of more than 30 counties due to the severe wind event.
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The Berkeley Seismological Lab's data center, which collects data from geophysical stations throughout Northern California, was created to be prepared for power outages due to earthquakes, says operations manager Peggy Hellweg in an email to The Scientist.
"This is the measure of last resort and given the extreme nature of what is being forecasted, we think this is the appropriate approach from a risk-reduction perspective to again make sure the continued safety of our customers and our communities", Singh said.
Southern California may be facing a similar situation, according to Southern California Edison, that region's utility. People were filling their gas tanks in case gas stations lost power.
People who rely on medical devices are urged to get them charged at community centers that will remain powered, officials said.
News of the outages struck a chord among affected residents.
But some 600,000 customers are still without electricity.
But these systems are turned off when utility power is out.
Officials are concerned that the thick, tangled canopy of trees and power lines around the affected region, combined with narrow roads filled with homes beneath, pose a high risk of fire.
This leaves many homes using solar power without electricity. The battery can then be used at night or when the grid goes down.
PG&E has come under criticism in recent years for the role of its equipment in a series of catastrophic wildfires across the state, including the deadly 2018 Camp Fire.