PG&E Power Shutoffs Begin, Affecting 513,000 Californians in First Wave

PG&E will shut off power to parts of county due to heightened fire risk

Los Altos Hills to lose power Wednesday

PG&E warned that customers might have to do without power for days as they waited for heavy winds to subside.

Though the projected locations and number of customers expected to be impacted is subject to change over the course of Tuesday, PG&E most recent announcement says people in parts of more than 300 cities or unincorporated communities could be affected, and that the shutoffs would start around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

The California department of forestry and fire protection (Cal Fire) said the flames had consumed about 60 acres in little more than two hours.

Forecasters warn that many parts of Northern California are under extreme fire weather danger, with windy and dry conditions forecast.

But the couple in suburban Sacramento forgot to charge their cellphones and were unable to get information on the Pacific Gas and Electric website, which was down after being overloaded with visitors. Authorities reminded people to park their vehicles outside garages or make sure they know how to manually open their garage doors.

Almost one million residents in the Golden State are dealing with power outages as officials work to avert potential wildfires.

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Utility officials said they had placed dozens of helicopter crews and hundreds of extra ground personnel on standby for inspections and repairs once the winds die down in order to restore power as quickly as possible.

University of California, Berkeley canceled all classes for Wednesday due to expected campus power loss over the next few days. Another 43,000 customers could lose power later in the day.

Altogether, more than 2 million people may be affected, based on city estimates and the average size of a USA household.

With weather forecasts predicting high winds, the move is meant to prevent the risk of fallen power lines igniting more wildfires.

With power outages poised to spread to 7 percent of his state's population, California Governor Gavin Newsom is both supporting electric utilities' decisions to turn the lights off and criticizing Pacific Gas and Electric.

Southern California Edison is considering power shutoffs to almost 174,000 customers in nine counties and San Diego Gas & Electric says it has notified about 30,000 customers in backcountry areas.

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The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch driven by a potentially widespread, strong and dry wind event Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon.

While many East Coast residents have learned to cope with power outages from hurricanes, weather-related outages are a relatively new phenomenon in California.

In the second phase, customers in Bay Area counties like Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz were flagged to shut down around noon today. "Any spark can create a significant event", said Ray Riordan, director of the Office of Emergency Management in San Jose, at a press conference Tuesday.

Customers tweeted photos Wednesday of the notice popping up on the touch screens of their electric cars, advising them to top off their batteries while they still could.

Lindsey Garcia said she lost power at midnight and stocked up on candles and batteries ahead of time.

Meanwhile, SoCal Edison is also considering a power shutoff that could affect more than 100,000 customers in Southern California.

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