Updated 10: p.m.
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Pacific Gas and Electric says it will cut off power to nearly 800,000 customers Wednesday morning as dry, windy weather could increase the risk of wildfires.
The utility announced the potential shutoff Monday, and confirmed Tuesday afternoon it would turn off power in parts of 34 counties in central and Northern California starting just after midnight Wednesday morning and through Thursday, when hot weather and strong winds are forecast.
⚠️Extreme fire weather conditions Wednesday morning - Thursday evening due to strong winds & very dry conditions. A Red Flag Warning has been issued.— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) October 8, 2019
This is forecast to be the strongest wind event of the season so far. Prepare now & please practice fire safety! #CAFire #CAwx pic.twitter.com/DA7rEOxX8Y
PG&E wildfire safety expert Sumeet Singh said Tuesday night that the company's decision to cut electricity is "a last resort" in the face of an unprecedented and sweeping wildfire risk from hot, dry weather and gusty winds.
The utility says some customers could be without power for five days because every inch of power line must be inspected and declared safe before electricity is restored.
PG&E has created a map to check if your address is in the expected outage zone. You can sign up for power shut off alerts here. The PG&E website has been down at times Tuesday, impacting customers' ability to check resources and sign up for alerts.
Here's the latest data Wednesday evening from PG&E on what areas could be affected:
To prepare, the utility is recommending that people:
- Update their contact information with the utility by calling 1-866-743- 6589
- Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
- Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency
- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
- Keep in mind elderly family members, younger children and pets
Are you prepared for an extended outage? 1) Update your contact info, 2) Review your emergency plan, 3) Check on those who need special help, young & elderly, 4) Have enough water, food & other supplies, 5) Ensure generators are ready to safely use. https://t.co/92ha3cpXyh pic.twitter.com/xoxriJZNd9— PG&E (@PGE4Me) October 8, 2019
Temperatures in Sacramento are expected to be in the mid 70's during the daytime Wednesday, which would be slightly warmer than conditions before the Camp Fire broke out last November.
Some of the most destructive blazes in California in recent years were started by PG&E power lines, including the Camp Fire. Winds can knock down live wires and power poles or drive trees and other vegetation into contact with them.
The utility shut off power to more than 10,000 customers in Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties this weekend. It was the fourth time it has cut power since the first shutoff last October, which came one month before the Camp Fire.
PG&E is opening resource centers throughout Northern California where those affected can get access to restrooms, water, electricity and air conditioning. The centers will open Wednesday at 8 a.m. and stay open during daylight hours.
CapRadio's Bob Moffitt and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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