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The Latest: California city criticized over blackout tweet

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2019 By The Associated Press

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on power outages in California (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

A tweet sent by the city of Berkeley telling people with medical needs to "use your own resources" in the event of a power outage has sparked an online backlash.

The tweet was sent Wednesday afternoon, hours before Pacific Gas and Electric shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people in Northern California to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires.

The tweet said residents who depend on electricity for medical reasons should "use your own resources" to flee the shutoffs.

Many people tweeted criticizing the city for its lack of preparedness for the unprecedented blackouts.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin told the East Bay Times the tweet doesn't accurately reflect the city's efforts and said a city task force is checking on people with accessibility and medical needs during outages.

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4 p.m.

A Southern California mobile home community is burning as strong Santa Ana winds sweep the region.

The fire erupted in the Calimesa area of Riverside County Thursday as the powerful, dry winds brought critical fire weather conditions to a wide area of Southern California.

The area was not listed among the latest communities where Southern California Edison has cut power in an effort to prevent wildfires caused by windblown wires.

A KABC-TV helicopter is showing homes burning or destroyed in Calimesa as wind blows huge columns of dark smoke along the ground. A middle school is nearby.

The fire is one of several that have broken out since the winds developed early in the day.

The cause of the fire is not known.

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2:25 p.m.

Firefighters have contained a blaze in a Southern California city that was fanned by high winds as two of the state's utilities shut off power to residents as a precaution so their equipment won't spark wildfires

The fire started at noon 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department says one home was badly damaged and that there was exterior damage to another home.

Battalion Chief Mike McClintock says the wind drove the fire through backyards for about a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometer).

Southern California Edison began shutting off power to thousands of customers around midday to try to prevent fires.

Fontana was among areas where power was turned. It was not immediately clear whether that outage included the location where the fire broke out.

In Northern California, a fire burning in the San Bruno mountains south of San Francisco was 60 percent contained.

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12:55 p.m.

A fire has erupted in a Southern California city as strong Santa Ana winds buffet the region.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department says the fire erupted in Fontana early Thursday afternoon.

Officials say one home is burning and others are threatened.

The fire broke out as the Southern California Edison utility turned off power for customers in an attempt to prevent electrical equipment from starting wildfires. It is not clear whether the power was out in the area of Fontana where the fire started.

The department says firefighters are trying to protect buildings and that heavy winds are hampering their progress.

The Sheriff's Department says evacuations are underway in the area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles but did not say how many people are evacuating.

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12:45 p.m.

The Southern California Edison utility has shut off power for about 12,000 people as strong Santa Ana winds sweep parts of the Southern California and raise the risk of wildfires.

The outages late Thursday morning follow similar intentional blackouts for about 1.5 million Pacific Gas & Electric customers in northern and central California as that utility tries to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires.

The affected areas for Southern California Edison include communities north of Los Angeles, east along the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and to the northwest in Ventura County.

Southern California Edison is considering further power cuts to nearly 174,000 customers. Experts say there are between two and three people for each electrical customer.

The National Weather Service is reporting wind gusts topping 50 mph (80 kph) in some areas.

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12:25p.m.

Fire crews in the San Francisco Bay Area are battling a blaze on a mountain ridge.

Television images show a helicopter dumping water on flames near power lines and electricity towers on San Bruno Mountain.

Pacific Gas and Electric has shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people in the region to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires.

It was unclear if the electrical equipment near the blaze had been shut off. PG&E officials didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Several agencies are fighting the blaze.

___

12 p.m.

Southern California Edison has shut off power to nearly 12,000 people as strong Santa Ana winds sweep parts of the region.

The utility say it cut power to 4,700 customers in communities north of Los Angeles, east along the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and to the northwest in Ventura County. Experts say there are between two and three people for each electrical customer.

The Southern California power cuts late Thursday morning follow similar intentional blackouts of hundreds of Pacific Gas & Electric customers in northern and central California a day earlier in an effort to prevent wildfires.

SoCal Edison is considering further power cuts to nearly 174,000 customers.

The National Weather Service is reporting wind gusts topping 50 mph (80 kph) in some areas.

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11:30 a.m.

The nation's largest utility says it has cut off power to about 10,000 people in the southern part of California's agricultural Central Valley because winds are picking up speed and increasing the danger of wildfires.

Pacific Gas and Electric said Thursday it has cut power to 4,000 customers in Kern County, where the city of Bakersfield is located. Experts estimate there are between two to three people for each electrical customer.

About 1.5 million people in Northern California are without power Thursday, most for a second day, after the utility shut off electricity to prevent its power lines and equipment from sparking wildfires.

The fire danger that led Pacific Gas & Electric to turn out the lights over a large section of Northern and Central California was expected to shift to Southern California as raging winds moved down the state.

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10:15 a.m.

The Sacramento Fire Department says it has responded to 48 fires over the last 24 hours amid dry, windy weather and a preventive blackout by California's largest utility affecting more than 1 million people.

The department says fire crews put out fires in three commercial buildings, three homes and halted many grass and brush fires.

The department posted a video on Twitter Thursday showing firefighters dousing the roof of a burning house with water as nearby trees swayed in the wind.

National Weather Service meteorologist Karleisa Rogacheski says the Sacramento Valley is experiencing wind gusts of nearly 30 mph (48 mph).

Farther north in California, winds were gusting at 60 mph at mountain peaks in Sierra and Tehama counties. Rogacheski says lighter winds are forecast for later Thursday.

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10 a.m.

California State University, San Bernardino, has canceled classes at its main campus due to a potential power shutdown aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires as the region's notorious Santa Ana winds develop.

The campus at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles is in one of the areas where Southern California Edison is considering a so-called public safety power shut off Thursday so power lines don't topple and spark fires. About 1.5 million people in Northern California have lost power because of the same risk.

Northwest of Los Angeles, the Fillmore Unified School District has canceled classes and all activities Thursday and Friday due to potential loss of power.

The National Weather Service says the Santa Ana winds have begun developing.

The Santa Anas have been involved in the spread of many destructive wildfires in Southern California.

___

9:30 a.m.

The largest U.S. utility has turned power back on for about a fifth of the nearly 2 million people who lost power in California over a two-day span in a deliberate move to prevent its equipment from sparking. 

Pacific Gas & Electric spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin the utility cut power to about 750,000 customers starting Wednesday but was working to restore power Thursday, starting in the northern and rural Humboldt County.

Experts estimate there are between two to three people for each electrical customer.

Subbotin says the utility is closely monitoring strong winds developing in central California's Kern County, where 4,000 customers could lose power later Thursday.

The utility began cutting electricity Wednesday to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and starting wildfires amid heavy winds and extreme fire danger.

___

9:25 a.m.

Los Angeles authorities say they will evacuate homeless people from camps in critical fire danger areas as dangerous Santa Ana winds develop.

Officials say the clearing of the camps is expected to begin Thursday and residents will be given verbal warnings.

Los Angeles Police Detective Meghan Aguilar says officers can arrest people if they refuse to leave after they get a verbal warning but called that a rare occurrence.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart says the evacuations will be within designated fire danger zones. A map on the department's website shows zones along the city's northern border, as well as to the west in Topanga State Park and other areas.

Southern California Edison warns that it might cut power to nearly 174,000 customers in nine counties.

___

8:30 a.m.

A federal bankruptcy court judge will allow input from a group of creditors and California wildfire victims who are trying to wrest control of the restructuring of Pacific Gas & Electric from the utility's shareholders.

PG&E shares plunged early Thursday following the ruling Wednesday by Judge Dennis Montali in San Francisco. The utility has cut off power to about 1.5 million California residents to prevent power lines from toppling to the ground and sparking fires.

The judge said that "a dual-track plan" may help in negotiations for a resolution.

Before the creditors and fire victims joined forces, Montali had given PG&E the exclusive right to plan how it will emerge from the bankruptcy forced by extraordinarily destructive wildfires linked to its electrical equipment.

___

8 a.m.

The University of California, Berkeley has canceled classes for a second day, saying the campus has no electricity.

The college's closure Thursday came after it also canceled classes Wednesday ahead of the planned power outage by Pacific Gas and Electric to prevent its power lines from toppling and sparking wildfires amid dry, windy weather.

In the city of Oakland next to Berkeley, the school district said nine schools would close Thursday because of the outages put in place by the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility.

Utility spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin says there are 600,000 customers in the dark in Northern California. Experts say there are between two and three people for each electrical customer.

Subbotin says the utility continues to watch the weather and has not yet decided on cutting power to more people.

She says the utility has already restored power to 126,000 residences and homes.

___

7 a.m.

More than 1.5 million people in Northern California are without power, some for a second day, as strong winds sweep through the region.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cut power to about 240,000 customers late Wednesday night to prevent wildfires amid dry, windy weather and extreme fire danger. The new power cuts turned off the lights in parts of the San Francisco Bay area, but not in the city itself.

Another 500,000 customers had their electricity cut off earlier by the utility to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and starting wildfires amid heavy winds and extreme fire danger. Experts say there are generally 2.5 people for each electrical customer.

Forecasters say wind gusts early Thursday on some San Francisco Bay Area hills reached speeds of 70 mph (110 kph). There was an overnight fire in the suburban town of Moraga that sent residents fleeing from their homes until the fire was out.

___

This item corrects the number of additional PG&E customers who lost power Wednesday night to about 240,000, not 140,000.

___

12 a.m.

Millions of Californians are playing a waiting game with the winds after Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and sparking wildfires.

PG&E intentionally blacked out about 730,000 homes and businesses Wednesday in northern and central California because of predicted dry, gusty winds. The outages came in two phases, with the San Francisco Bay Area hit late Wednesday night.

There's no word on how long the outage will last, although PG&E says it could be days because power lines must be inspected and declared safe after the winds subside.

In the south, Santa Ana winds are expected to hit the region Thursday. Southern California Edison warns that it might cut power to nearly 174,000 customers in nine counties.

Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyCurrent
Price
Price
Change
Dividend
Yield
P/E
Ratio
Consensus
Rating
Consensus
Price Target
PG&E (PCG)$7.34+4.7%N/A1.84Hold$14.57

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