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Northern California Fires Cut NatGas, Power Service to Thousands

As wildfires raged through the iconic wine country and other parts of Northern California Wednesday, natural gas and electric service was cut off to thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) customers.

Contrary to some reports, a PG&E spokesperson told NGI late Wednesday that normal gas volumes were still flowing on the interstate supply lines. Cutbacks in gas were restricted to localized areas, the spokesperson said.

Interstate gas supplies from Western Canada and the Rockies were still available for homes and businesses that have been spared.

Genscape Inc. said Wednesday gas flows and prices fell because of lower demand caused by the fires in California, and maintenance on the GTN interstate system at the Kingsgate border crossing in British Columbia.  Volumes dropped about 75 MMcf/d, and the Tuesday Kingsgate basis price hit $1.73, its lowest value since February 2014, Genscape said.

California fire, emergency response, law enforcement and Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) officials reported that up to 20 fires, most bolstered by high winds, raged statewide and most of them, including the ones in the Napa and Sonoma wine country region were at zero-stage of containment.

Late Wednesday officials estimated the fires had spread across more than 115,000 acres, with 2,000 structures destroyed, and at least 13 fatalities.

In the Santa Rosa/Sonoma area, an estimated 34,000 customers were without gas service and 40,000 did not have power on Wednesday. In Napa County there were 6,700 electric outages and 1,700 gas outages, according to PG&E.

In Southern California, the Canyon fire in the hills of Orange County were more contained and less problematic, given the absence of high winds over the past two days. Southern California Edison Co. reported less than two dozen customers without power Wednesday night.

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