The National Weather Service has placed a “Red Flag Fire Warning” on much of California, including many parts of Northern California as conditions of gusty winds, dry fuels & low humidity are prominent in the area. As a precaution, PG&E may shut off power to up to 69,000 customers in Northern California in order to avoid sparking a fire.
The forecast, expected to last through late Friday, calls for the high winds that are so dangerous in these waning months of fire season. As Cal Fire has pointed to many of the devastating NorCal fires in recent years to power lines, PG&E has began playing it safe when it comes to wildfires.
This would not be the first time the company has shut off power for fire safety. Last month, PG&E shut off power to 60,000 homes which lasted three days. This upcoming shut down could kill power to parts of nine counties — Butte, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sonoma and Yuba.
PG&E began sending notifications of the potential shutoffs via texts, phone calls and emails Tuesday. As weather patterns become more apparent, the company will make its decision.
There are #FireWeatherWatches in Southern CA and #RedFlagWarnings spanning from the San Francisco area, through Sacramento, and into Redding starting tomorrow through Friday due to gusty winds and low humidity. Please use caution while outdoors. https://t.co/jRrR4hX5OR pic.twitter.com/L6DTBiutno
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) November 6, 2018
“What we’re doing is in the interest of customers and the safety of customers, and only as a last result during extreme weather conditions,” said PG&Es pokeswoman Kristi Jourdan. “It’s a pretty fluid situation.”
If the shutoffs do occur, it’s unclear how long they will last. CAL FIRE has some tips for fire safety during times of high risk:
- Never mow or trim dry grass on a Red Flag Warning Day. (Mow before 10 a.m. on a day when its not hot and windy).
- Never use lawn mowers in dry vegetation.
- Spark arresters are required in wildland areas on all portable gasoline powered equipment.
- Before starting a campfire, make sure you have a campfire permit and that they are permitted on the land you are visiting.
- Afterwards, ensure that your campfire is properly extinguished.
- Residents should make sure they have 100 feet of defensible space around structures.
- Clear dead weeds and vegetation.
- Remove leaves and needles from gutters.
- Trim branches 6 feet from the ground.
- Never pull over in dry grass.
- Ensure trailer chains don’t drag on the ground.
- Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.
- Have proper tire pressure to avoid driving on wheel rim.
- Never let your brake pads wear too thin.
- Make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.
- Never burn landscape debris like leaves or branches on NO Burn Days or when it’s windy or areas where not allowed.
- Target shoot only in approved areas, use lead ammunition only, and never at metal targets.
- Report any suspicious activities to prevent arson.