California Utility Warns of Second Power Outage to Prevent Wildfire
File Image of California Wildfires Turn Deadly. (Photo: Twitter, elmariachi)

San Francisco, October 22: California utility Pacific Gas and Electric company (PG&E) has warned that it would cut power again to hundreds of thousands of customers in Northern California later this week to prevent possible wildfires. PG&E said on Monday that over 200,000 customers could be left without power beginning Wednesday evening due to dry, fast winds blowing into Northern California, reports Xinhua news agency.

An advance notice has been sent to those who might be affected by the shut-off in 15 counties in the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay, said the utility. California Wildfire Takes Heavy Toll on Animals Despite Massive Rescue Operations; Heart-Rending Pictures Go Viral.

This could be the second time within two weeks that PG&E would enforce an intentional power blackout in those counties, with each power outage lasting about 48 hours. PG&E was criticized for its last decision to carry out extensive shut-offs that affected more than 738,000 customers in over 30 California counties starting October 9.

National Weather Service authorities have forecast that this week would be sunny and warm, but risks of wildfires are high due to dry and gusty winds, especially in mountainous regions. "Gusts of 56-67.5 kph have been forecast for some North Bay counties, with some localized areas expected to experience 88 kph gusts," PG&E said.

Michael Lewis, senior vice president of PG&E Electric Operations, said that sustained winds above 67.5 kph can damage the company's lower-voltage distribution system and winds above 80 kph are capable of destroying higher-voltage transmission equipment. On Monday, PG&E also suggested that patients who rely on electric or battery-dependent medical equipment such as breathing machines, power wheelchairs or home oxygen or dialysis devices to make prior plans for an extended power outage.