With extremely high winds forecast to return to Northern California by Tuesday, wildfire prevention methods by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) that cut power to more than two million people and thousands of homes and businesses are likely to stay in place for up to five days.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency on Sunday and visited the Kincade Fire area, where more than 200,000 residents north of Napa were ordered to evacuate over the weekend.
As of Sunday there were more than 3,000 local, state and federal personnel including first responders fighting the Kincade Fire, which had consumed more than 66,000 acres and was 5% contained, according to the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection (CalFIRE).
The cause of the fire, which Monday covered 47 square miles and threatened 80,000 structures, was still under investigation. However, PG&E in a report to the California Public Utilities Commission indicated a transmission line could be the cause.
PG&E said a 230-kV transmission line de-energized in Geyserville in Sonoma County last Wednesday around the same time that the Kincade Fire ignited. A worker for CalFIRE taped off the transmission tower at its base and alerted PG&E to a broken jumper cable on the tower.
Last Friday, Newsom announced the creation of a $75 million program for local governments to mitigate the impacts from the public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). “PG&E failed to maintain its infrastructure, and Californians are facing hardship as a result,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Southern California, the Tick Fire was threatening homes and critical infrastructure and also forcing thousands to evacuate. The fire began last week in the northern end of Los Angeles County and was 70% contained on Monday.
A Southern California Edison spokesperson reported Monday only 364 customers were still without power because of its PSPS issued last week. More than 300,000 customers were on alert that they could lose power from an extended PSPS this week.
In addition, early Monday a brush fire erupted near the Getty Museum and Arts Center campus straddling the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. Dubbed the Getty Fire, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said about 900 customers early Monday were without power, and emergency responders estimated it had consumed 500 acres, with about 10,000 homes in the evacuation zones.
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