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PG&E Restores Power To 20,000 Northern California Customers

Cal Fire PIO Berlant / Twitter

Crews from PG&E work to install new utility poles and restore power to those affected by the Valley Fire on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015.

Cal Fire PIO Berlant / Twitter

Updated Monday, June 10, 2:47 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electic has restored power to all 20,500 customers in Butte and Yuba Counties whose power the utility shut off on Saturday evening due to continued fire danger in the region.

The utility initially planned to cut power to approximately 26,900 customers in the Sierra Foothills, including parts of Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties, as well. But PG&E announced late Saturday that it had scaled back the previously announced plan due to "more favorable weather changes."

The utility also turned off electricity Saturday morning to 1,600 customers in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties amid windy, dry and hot weather. Power to those areas was restored later Saturday.

Conditions ripe for fire — winds, low humidity, dry vegetation and heat — were expected to last into Sunday. The National Weather Service said a station north of Sonoma reported gusts to 50 mph Saturday.

PG&E is under pressure to prevent fire starts after downed power lines and other equipment have been blamed for conflagrations that began during so-called fire weather.

The shutoffs are the first for PG&E since last October, when it cut power to 60,000 customers in six Northern Califorina counties. Those shutoffs came less than a month before the devastating Camp Fire, which has since been blamed on PG&E equipment.

But there has been opposition from customers who rely on electrically powered life-support equipment as well as businesses that have had to shut down for lack of power.

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and our decision tonight to turn off power is to protect our communities experiencing extreme fire danger," Michael Lewis, PG&E's senior vice president of electric operations, said in a statement Friday.

California experienced a very wet winter and spring, and even vast areas that were scorched earth after last year's wildfires now have new head-high brush that is rapidly browning as summer approaches.

The shutoff comes as a rapidly-spreading fire broke out in northwest Yolo County Saturday afternoon, forcing evacuations for residents on County Road 41 near Guinda.

The state's electricity providers have been given authority to shut off power when fire risk is extremely high, but the California Public Utilities Commission has said they must do a better job of educating and notifying the public, and increase fire prevention efforts such as clearing brush and installing fire-resistant poles.

The National Weather Service's red flag warning was issued for portions of the Central Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for Saturday through Sunday at elevations below 1,000 feet, where there has been less rain recently and the vegetation is driest.

A heat advisory issued for the region around San Francisco Bay warned of record or near-record heat on Sunday, with widespread highs from 95 to 105 degrees.

The Associated Press and CapRadio's Chris Hagan and Bob Moffitt contributed to this report.

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