Power to thousands of Californians cut amid wildfire threat

Power to thousands of Californians cut amid wildfire threat

Power was shut off to parts of Northern California on Saturday amid dry, windy conditions that could lead to wildfires if a line was downed, according to The Associated Press.

Pacific Gas & Electric reportedly turned off power to areas of Napa, Solano and Yolo counties Saturday morning, affecting 1,600 customers.

PG&E then announced it would cut off power for another 27,000 Californians in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties from Saturday evening through Sunday morning, according to the news service.

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Low humidity and strong winds are projected to stretch into Sunday in Northern California.

The practice of preemptively cutting off power has been controversial, with businesses forced to close during the shutoffs and people reliant on life-support equipment that runs on electricity expressing opposition.

“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,” Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of electric operations, said Friday, according to the AP.

While providers in the state are authorized to shut off power during high-risk conditions, the California Public Utilities Commission has also called on them to better notify and educate the public and take measures such as installing fire-resistant polls, according to the news service.

Last year, the so-called Camp Fire in Butte County destroyed most of the town of Paradise, parts of which are included in the latest shutoffs, according to Reuters, with investigators blaming the utility’s power lines for sparking the fire.

PG&E plans to significantly expand shutoffs this year.