Fires

Latest: Nearly 50,000 more will lose power overnight in PG&E’s second round of shutoffs

Wednesday update: PG&E has confirmed that it cut power to about 48,200 customers in seven Northern California counties overnight. Read more and follow the latest updates here.

9 p.m. update: More than 60,000 PG&E customers across Northern California are expected to wake up Wednesday without power, as persistent fire danger will trigger a second round of safety interruptions during the overnight hours.

The outages, which expands the number of customers taken offline in the Sierra Nevada foothills, will affect approximately 46,800 customers in portions of Butte, Nevada, Placer, Plumas and Yuba counties. Among those facing shutoff: About 2,600 customers in Auburn and Foresthill, as well as 16,000 additional customers in Grass Valley, Nevada City and other communities in Nevada County.

Additionally, the utility said, about 1,400 customers in the North Bay counties of Napa and Sonoma will have their power interrupted around 4:30 a.m. after dodging the threat during the first round of shutoffs Monday.

The expansion of forced blackouts to nearly 50,000 more customers were called for as windy weather was expected to remain in the region through at least noon, the company said in a release late Tuesday.

A number of homes from the original set of 22,000 customers deliberately cut off Monday remained without power as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, as crews fanned out around the affected areas to assess the condition of power lines.

12:30 p.m. update: PG&E says 6,700 of approximately 22,000 customers across Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties have had their power restored from Monday evening’s planned power shutoff as of early Tuesday afternoon, according to a news release by the company.

The utility still has not made a final decision on whether it will cut power to portions of those three counties, plus six others, across the North Bay and Sierra Nevada foothills starting Tuesday night.

Originally saying the decision would be announced around noon, PG&E now says dangerous fire weather “has shifted to later in the evening, and PG&E will make a final decision about a PSPS this afternoon.”

PG&E has not estimated how many customers may be affected by this second shutoff.

11:15 a.m. update: PG&E says it is conducting safety patrols and inspections Tuesday morning and is beginning to re-energize power lines, expecting to restore power to nearly all Butte, Yuba and Nevada county customers affected by a public safety power shutoff that was initiated Monday evening to mitigate wildfire risk.

But power may be restored for only a few hours. The utility says it is monitoring weather conditions and may implement a second power shutoff starting Tuesday night and extending into Wednesday morning.

A Tuesday night shutoff could impact customers in portions of nine counties - the three above, plus El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Lake, Napa and Sonoma.

PG&E will make a final decision regarding this shutoff around noon Tuesday, the company said in a tweet.

Original story:

Power remains out for about 24,000 PG&E customers Tuesday morning after the utility initiated a public safety shutoff Monday evening amid critical fire weather.

The interruptions have cut power to portions of Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. advises that customers in those three counties plus six others – El Dorado, Lake, Sutter, Napa, Placer and Sonoma – should “remain on standby” for another possible shutoff that would start Tuesday night and last through Wednesday morning, according to PG&E’s public safety power shutoff website.

No estimate has been given yet for the total number of customers that would be affected by a Tuesday night shutoff.

Will PG&E cut power Tuesday night?

PG&E has said a decision regarding a Tuesday shutoff will be announced late Tuesday morning.

PG&E also said in a tweet about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday that customers still affected by Monday’s shutoff may have their power restored “for a brief time” before a potential Tuesday evening shutoff, and reminded customers in those areas to charge their electronic devices during that window.

Where can Butte, Nevada and Yuba county residents go?

PG&E has also announced it will open five community resource centers at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The locations will provide air conditioning, bottled water, restrooms, charging devices and seating for up to 100 people at each location.

The centers will be at the Auburn Gold Country Fairgrounds; the Sierra College Grass Valley Campus, 14144 Lakeridge Circle in Magalia; the Harrison Stadium parking lot in Oroville; and the Alcouffe Center in Oregon House.

Why did PG&E shut off power?

This week’s power shutoff events come as critical fire weather is in the forecast for most of the Sacramento Valley, the North Bay and the foothills.

PG&E announced the possible shutoffs over the weekend at about the same time the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning, in effect from Monday afternoon through at least midday Wednesday, warning of hot, dry and windy conditions that present high wildfire risk.

School districts scramble, some campuses closed

The timing of PG&E’s planned power shutoff and announcements leading up to it have left public school districts in Yuba, Nevada and Butte counties scrambling, deciding whether to cancel class for the day.

Some districts in those counties, including Oroville Union High School District, indicated online and in social media posts that they planned to keep schools open whether their facilities had power or not.

Others were left to make last-minute decisions regarding closures.

Marysville Joint Unified School District in Yuba County announced Monday afternoon that five of its schools were directly affected by the power shutdown and would be closed Tuesday. Those schools are Browns Valley Elementary, Dobbins Elementary, Foothill Intermediate, Loma Rica Elementary and Yuba Feather Elementary, according to a letter to parents from district Superintendent Gary Cena. The other 18 Marysville Joint Unified schools will remain open Tuesday.

Penn Valley Union Elementary School District in Nevada County announced Monday evening that school would be canceled Tuesday at all three of its campuses.

“Hopefully we will get further updates from PG&E (Tuesday) that will help us navigate this new normal we are all experiencing,” the district said in a news release.

Nevada Joint Union High School District announced Tuesday morning on its website that all of its schools would be open and on a normal schedule that day.

In Butte County, Ophir Elementary School in Oroville will be closed Tuesday, with the final decision not announced by Oroville City Elementary School District until 5:30 a.m. that day.

Wheatland School District said in a Facebook post about 3 p.m. Monday that PG&E indicated in an update that all of Wheatland’s schools would be without power Monday night through Tuesday morning, but that the district planned to hold classes Tuesday either way. Then, just after 8:30 p.m., the district said it was notified PG&E would not be shutting off power in Wheatland after all.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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