Ripe fire conditions – winds, low moisture, dry vegetation, and heat – were anticipated to last through Sunday. A station south of Sonoma recorded gusts to 50 mph on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
PG&E is under pressure to avoid fire from starting after energy lines and other machineries were blamed for conflagrations that started during the so-called fire weather.
The shutoffs are the first for PG&E since last October when it cut power to 60,000 customers in six Northern California counties. Those shutoffs came less than a month before the devastating Camp Fire, which has since been blamed on PG&E equipment.
But clients relying on electrically powered life-support facilities as well as companies who had to shut down due to the absence of power were opposed.
“We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and our decision tonight to turn off power is to protect our communities experiencing extreme fire danger,” Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of electric operations, said in a statement Friday.
California has undergone a very humid winter and spring, and even vast regions that have been scorched earth after the wildfires of last year now have a fresh head-high brush that is quickly browning as summer approaches.
The shutdown comes as a rapidly spreading fire broke out on Saturday afternoon in northwest Yolo County, forcing evacuations on County Road 41 near Guinda for citizens.
Electricity suppliers in the state have been given authority to shut down power when fire danger is exceptionally high, but the California Public Utilities Commission has said they need to do a better job of educating and notifying the public, and boost attempts to prevent fire, such as brush clearing and fire-resistant poles installation.
For parts of the Central Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the red flag warning of the National Weather Service was given for Saturday through Sunday at altitudes below 1,000 feet, where less rain has lately occurred and the vegetation is driest.
A heat advisory issued for the San Francisco Bay region on Sunday advised of record or near-record heat with extensive 95-105 degrees peaks.
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