Disasters & Accidents

Thousands of Californians dealing with programmed blackouts to prevent fires

Los Angeles, Sep 27 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Northern California residents are without electricity on Sunday as one of the measures being taken by the service provider to reduce the risks of more forest fires amid a wave of heat and strong winds that are affecting the region.

Pacific Gas & Electric announced on Saturday evening that it was planning to schedule power outages to some 89,000 customers in parts of 16 counties starting on Sunday morning since the dry conditions, high temperatures and strong winds are continuing to increase the danger of fanning the flames of existing wildfires or creating new ones across a large part of the northern part of the state.

The blackout will be performed in three phases and will last until Monday evening, the company said.

Most of those people affected – some 74,000 customers – will see their power cut on Sunday afternoon.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, issued an alert on Saturday regarding the high temperatures and the winds coming from the east with gusts of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour.

The thermometer could rise to some 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in some areas, the National Weather Service warned.

With the rising temperatures and the winds coming on top of very low humidity, all this creates a perfect combination of factors to feed existing fires or allow for new outbreaks in the area.

Red flag warnings are in effect for a large part of Northern California until Monday morning.

California is experiencing its worst fire season ever and authorities fear that the conditions on Sunday will nourish the flames of the so-called August Complex Fire, which is by far the largest fire in the state’s history, having destroyed more than 352,000 hectares (880,000 acres or 1,375 square miles) of woodland and grassland.

Firefighters are also battling the North Complex Fire, which has burned more than 123,000 hectares (308,000 acres) and become one of the most deadly and destructive fires so far this year with at least 15 fatalities. Authorities, at this point, say they have this fire 78 percent contained.

On Sunday morning, authorities reported a new fire in Napa County dubbed the Glass Fire, where they have ordered some 2,000 local residents to evacuate, including the 55 patients at the Adventist Health St. Helena hospital.

Meanwhile, health authorities in San Francisco and elsewhere, along with the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, are actively discouraging people from heading to the beaches due to the coronavirus pandemic and are advising people to continue wearing facemasks in public in an effort to limit the number of new Covid-19 cases.

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