Utility Southern California Edison said nearly 50,000 of its customers could go dark as a prevention measure.
Nov. 27, 2020, 4:18 PM PST
Thousands of utility customers in Southern California were warned they could be in the dark Friday because dry, windy fire weather was whipping the region.
Initially 100,000 customers were under consideration for precautionary power cutoffs to prevent sparking fires, but that number was reduced to 47,000 by afternoon, said Taelor Bakewell, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison.
Still, electricity was cut off to 15,796 customers Friday under the preventative plan, she said.
Customers in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties could still be affected, she said. Another 2,739 customers in San Diego County were warned of possible shutoffs from San Diego Gas & Electric, the utility said.
The city of Los Angeles has its own taxpayer-run utility that doesn’t participate in precautionary outages. The shutoffs have otherwise become customary during dry, windy weather in California.
State fire officials determined that Pacific Gas & Electric transmission lines were the cause of the state’s deadliest blaze, 2018’s Camp Fire, and the utility agreed to billions of dollars of settlements connected to a rash of Northern California fires in 2017.
Even in late November, with overnight temperatures producing freeze warnings in some parts of Southern California, fire weather can erupt. The weekend’s forecast includes dry, offshore winds from the U.S.-Mexico border to Ventura County.
Gusts of up to 65 mph were possible in regional mountains through Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
“What drives the fire risk is not just temperature,” said Tom Fischer, a weather service meteorologist in Oxnard. “It’s wind, low humidity and fuel moisture.”
The winds could subside by Sunday, he said: “But don’t let your guard down.”
Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles.
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