California Power Outage Rolls Into Second Day, Millions Without Electricity
By Zusha Elinson
Californians woke up Thursday to a second straight day of
rolling blackouts as PG&E Corp. cut power to hundreds of
thousands of households and businesses in the Bay Area and
PG&E said around 11 p.m. Wednesday it had begun the second
phase of an unprecedented power shutdown meant to avert the type of
deadly infernos that killed dozens last year and propelled the
utility into bankruptcy court.
The utility said 234,000 customers would be affected during this
new phase of blackouts that began Wednesday afternoon, including
those living in cities such as San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley.
That brings the total number of households and businesses
affected to more than 700,000, as the utility had already cut power
to about 513,000 customers in Northern California, including in
wine country where wildfires raged in 2017.
With multiple people in many households, millions are likely
being affected by the blackouts.
PG&E said it had restored power to about 50,000 customers in
the Sierra Foothills, but is still considering further shut-offs
for Kern County that may hit up to 4,000 customers.
Firefighters in Moraga, a quiet Bay Area town hit by the
blackout, battled a wildfire overnight that was swept along by
strong winds. By the morning, the fire was 70% contained, though 40
homes were still under an evacuation order, the fire department
said. There were no injuries, and no houses were burned, the
Thirty-two thousand households and businesses had no power
Thursday morning in Alameda County, which includes Oakland and
Berkeley, said Michael Hunt, chief of staff of the Oakland Fire
"It's all hands on deck trying to prevent wildfires and keep
people traveling on roadways safely," said Mr. Hunt. He said that
the threat of wildfires remains serious with a high-wind advisory
still in effect.
Crews have been busy putting up signs to turn intersections with
traffic lights into four-way stops, Mr. Hunt said. Yesterday,
several car accidents were reported in Northern California after
traffic signals went out.
Originally, PG&E had warned Bay Area residents that power
would be shut down at noon on Wednesday, but amid great confusion,
it didn't occur until last night.
In the Oakland hills, where a firestorm in 1991 killed 25 and
destroyed thousands of homes, residents worry about fires but are
also skeptical of the power company.
David Bruck, a 67-year-old commercial property manager, had to
evacuate his home during the 1991 fire.
"Given that experience and being here for the fires in Napa and
Santa Rosa, I am for anything we can do to prevent that," said Mr.
Bruck. "But it's hard to have a lot of faith in PG&E these
Mr. Bruck, who was picking up some last-minute groceries before
the power was scheduled to shut off Wednesday, said PG&E should
be doing a better job with preventive work and upgrading equipment
to avoid having to shut off the power.
Write to Zusha Elinson at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 10, 2019 10:58 ET (14:58 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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