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Preemptive power outage in California will impact almost 800,000 customers, utility says, as state hopes to prevent wildfires

Source: 
The New York Daily News

California's largest utility said Tuesday it will cut power to almost 800,000 customers in a bid to dodge the devastating infernos that have destroyed thousands of buildings and killed dozens in recents years.

The preemptive power outage will start Wednesday shortly after midnight, Pacific Gas and Electric Company said, although charges will go at staggered times in different locations based on local weather. Arid conditions and the Santa Ana Winds, forecast to reach more than 50 mph, could set the stage for wildfires, officials say.

PG&E said its blackout will hit parts of 34 counties in northern and central California.

"We understand the effects this event will have on our customers and appreciate the public's patience as we do what is necessary to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk of wildfire," said Michael Lewis, the utility's senior vice president of electric operations, in a news release.

Fires that burned across the northern portion of the state in October of 2017 killed more than 40 people. New York sent firefighters across the country to help tame the blaze.

And a wildfire blamed on PG&E power cables killed 86 people last year, according to The Associated Press.

Southern California Edison also said Tuesday it was monitoring circuits affecting about 173,000 customers.

"This is all about public safety," California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters. "It's about reducing fire risk, property loss, lives lost. None of us are happy about it. But this was all part of something that we know would likely occur many months ago when PG&E finally woke up to their responsibility to keep people safe."

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