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California Is Going Dark Again

Hundreds of thousands expected to be affected by power outages amid fire fears
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 23, 2019 5:30 PM CDT
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In this Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 file photo, a bystander watches the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, Calif.   (AP Photo/David Swanson, File)

(Newser) – The state's largest utility said it will go ahead with widespread blackouts affecting nearly half a million people starting Wednesday as dangerous fire weather returns to California. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said it would begin precautionary power shutoffs in the afternoon affecting nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in portions of 17 counties, mostly in the Sierra foothills and north of the San Francisco Bay Area. The outages will last about 48 hours, the utility said. Meanwhile, Southern California Edison said it could cut power Thursday to more than 308,000 customers in seven counties, and San Diego Gas & Electric was warning of power shutoffs to about 24,000 customers, the AP reports.

The utilities say they're concerned that winds forecast to top 60 mph could throw branches and debris into power lines or topple them, sparking wildfires. PG&E cut power to more than 2 million people across the San Francisco Bay Area in rolling blackouts from Oct. 9-12, paralyzing parts of the region in what was the largest deliberate blackout to prevent wildfires in state history. Schools and universities canceled classes and many businesses were forced to close. PG&E's new warning just two weeks later prompted feelings of frustration and resignation among some residents and business owners and renewed rushes to stock up on batteries and other emergency supplies.

(Read more California wildfires stories.)

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