Thousands turn off electricity in California during fire season

Thousands of utility customers in Southern California were warned that they might be in the dark on Friday as dry, strong wind weather was ripping the area.

Southern California Edison spokesman Tailor Baquel said that at the initial time, 100,000 customers were considering a precautionary power cutoff to prevent sparking fires, but by noon the number had come down to 47,000.

Nevertheless, 15,796 customers were cut off power on Friday under the preventive scheme.

Customers in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties may still be affected, she said. 2,739 other customers in San Diego County were warned of a possible closure from San Diego Gas & Electric, the utility said.

The city of Los Angeles has its own taxpayer-run utility that does not participate in precautionary steps. Shafts are otherwise customary during the dry, windy season in California.

State fire officials determined that Pacific gas and electric transmission lines were the cause of the state’s deadliest explosion, the 2018 campfire, and that the utility accepted billions of dollars of settlements associated with Northern California fire flames in 2017.

Even in late November, fire temperatures could erupt in parts of Southern California, with overnight temperatures warning of freezes. Weekend forecasts include dry, offshore winds from the US-Mexico border to Ventura County.

The National Weather Service said that up to 65 mph was possible in the regional mountains by Saturday afternoon.

“What’s the cause of the fire risk, it’s not just the temperature,” said Tom Fisher, a meteorological service meteorologist in Oxnard. “It is air, low humidity and fuel moisture.”

The winds could subside by Sunday, he said: “But don’t disappoint your guard.”

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