PG&E will shut down power to more than 10,000 customers in Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties beginning around 10 p.m. Saturday as strong winds increase the risk of wildfire across rural Northern California.
The company estimates 10,328 customers will likely be affected by the precautionary blackout, the company said in a statement just before 6 p.m. The vast majority of those who will be cut off are customers in portions of Butte County — in areas including Paradise, Magalia and other areas devestated by last year’s Camp Fire.
No other counties will be affected, PG&E said; however, crews would be “closely monitoring” conditions in six additional Northern California counties: El Dorado, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Tehama and Yolo.
“We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety when gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community,” Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior Vice president of electric operations, said in prepared remarks.
Red flag warnings are in effect for parts or all of Tehama, Glenn, Colusa, Yuba, Sutter, Butte, Yolo, Sacramento, Solano and Placer counties as well as much of the North Bay Area.
Northeast winds of 10-20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph are expected in all areas with red flag warnings, according to the National Weather Service. The warnings expire at 8 p.m. Sunday as winds die down but PG&E expects its interruption to only last through the morning, the utility said.
PG&E said it would open resources centers from 8 p.m. to sunset with restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating at Bird Street School, 1421 Bird St., Oroville and at 14144 Lakeridge Circle, Magalia. The utility said it would also have a mobile resource van available at the Brownsville Ponderosa Community Center, 17103 Ponderosa Way.
The announcement comes 11 months after the start of the Camp Fire, which ultimately killed 85 people and torched more than 150,000 acres of Butte County land. The most destructive wildfire in state history, which began when a downed PG&E power line sparked dry vegetation amid high winds, reduced most of the town of Paradise to ashes.
This marks the third time since Sept. 23 that PG&E has shut off power in parts of rural Northern California out of concern of fire conditions.