(TNS) — With temperatures soaring and strong winds blowing through forests across Northern California over the weekend, rural areas in the Sierra Nevada foothills plunged into darkness after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off high-voltage transmission lines to avoid sparking wildfires.
The first formal deployment of its new Public Safety and Power Shutoff rules left more than 20,500 PG&E customers in portions of Butte and Yuba counties without power as 260 utility personnel conducted safety patrols, repaired electric infrastructure and inspected 800 miles of transmission and distribution lines, officials said.
The aggressive power shutoffs began at 9 p.m. Saturday and continued through Sunday. “We’re asking impacted customers to be prepared for a 24- to 48-hour outage,” Karly Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the utility said in an interview Sunday.
Working collaboratively with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, local agencies and the state Office of Emergency Services, the utility continued to monitor weather conditions in areas including Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties, and warned it may de-energize high-power transmissions lines in those areas overnight.
The utility opened two Community Resource Centers on Sunday to support customers across the Sierra Foothills. The centers in the communities of Grass Valley and Oroville each offered restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 customers.