Millions of Californians prepared to be in the dark—some for five days, or longer—as the nation's largest utility said it was switching off power again Tuesday to prevent powerful winds from damaging its equipment and sparking more fires. Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. said its latest blackout will start early Tuesday and affect 605,000 customers—about 1.5 million people —in 29 Northern California counties. The announcement came even before the last blackout had ended, which shut power to more than 2.5 million people. It wasn't clear if power, that for many went out Saturday, would be restored before the next round of outages, the AP reports. What was clear was that patience was wearing thin and frustration at the utility was growing.
From the suburbs of San Francisco up north to the wine country, people searched for places Monday to charge phones and stock up on ice. Powerful winds are driving multiple fires across California and the deliberate shut-offs are intended to prevent blazes. Crews are battling a huge wildfire in Sonoma County wine country that has destroyed 96 buildings. PG&E said Monday its power lines may have started two wildfires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area despite the blackouts. "PG&E can't figure out how to deliver power reliably without killing people," says Petaluma resident Scotty Richardson. "This is more than three strikes—it's a failure of epic proportions." The utility's stock dropped 24% Monday to close at $3.80 and was down more than 50% since Thursday.
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