California Tempers Flare: Will Power Outages Prevent Wildfires?

(TNS) — Classes were canceled. Frozen foods melted. Hospitals switched to emergency generators. Blooms withered in florists’ coolers. Unused food was jettisoned at shuttered restaurants. Lines formed at gas stations. Cellphones faded out.

That’s what happened Wednesday when the state’s largest utility shut off power to millions of Californians in a drastic attempt to avoid the killer wildfires that have charred hundreds of thousands of acres, caused billions of dollars in damage and spurred cries for widespread change in how electricity is delivered over the state’s aging grid.

Nearly 800,000 in NorCal Having Power Shut Off to Avert Wildfire

(TNS) - In a historic move to avert another fiery disaster, PG&E is turning off power to as many as 800,000 customers in Northern and Central California Wednesday, prompting residents, schools, businesses and local officials to make hurried plans to cope without electricity possibly for several days.

With wind speeds expected between 40 mph and 70 mph over sunbaked land Wednesday and Thursday, the state’s largest utility opted to preemptively cut power in parts of 34 counties, including Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties in the North Bay.

PG&E, driven into bankruptcy in January facing about $30 billion in liabilities for the 2017 wildfires, adopted temporary power shut-offs as a key part of its wildfire prevention plan. A majority of those catastrophic blazes were attributed to the company’s equipment.

California Wildfires a Threat to Progress Cutting Greenhouse Gases

Oct. 8--The wildfires that raged last year from Paradise to Malibu made for California's deadliest, most destructive fire season on record.

But the eruption of blazes marked another distinction for California, as one of the worst for the climate. In 2018, fires released more than 45 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere--the most in a decade and trailing only slightly behind 2008, when the state was also stricken by two of the largest wildfires in modern history.

California Emergency Alerts Improved, but Far from Perfected

(TNS) — Wikiup resident Susan Sloan was prepared in 2017 when fires broke out on a Sunday night in October across Sonoma County.

She was among several thousand residents who had signed up for official emergency notifications through the county’s opt-in warning program, SoCo Alert. She had a landline telephone to receive the automated call alerting her to a fire just before midnight Oct. 8. Then the power went out.

“You could see the glow from behind the hills,” Sloan recalled. “My neighbors had come out onto their deck. They said it was just a warning, ‘Everything is fine.’?”

Study Examines California Workers’ Comp Hospital Inpatient Stays

The number of California workers’ compensation inpatient hospital stays fell 1.9 percent between 2017 and 2018, for a net decline of nearly 31 percent since 2010, a new study shows.

A study from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute traces much of that drop to a declining number of hospitalizations related to musculoskeletal disorders, including spinal fusions.

Death Toll from Northern California Wildfire Back Down to 85

The number of those who died in California’s deadliest wildfire is back down to 85 after authorities determined that a bone fragment previously classified as unidentified belongs to a victim named in January.

The Butte County Sheriff’s office said that the number of unidentified victims from the November 2018 Camp Fire now stands at one.

Possible Power Shutoffs as Fire Threatens in Northern California

(TNS) - Critical fire weather is threatening California, as high winds, low humidity and dry conditions combine to form a sometimes lethal mix, the National Weather Service warned Monday.

A red flag warning is in effect for more than 3.8 million Northern Californians for the next three days, as wind gusts blow through the region.

In Southern California, Santa Ana winds will carry in warmer temperatures along with elevated fire dangers, forecasters said.

Wildfire Risks Spark a Move to Microgrids in California

(TNS) — In his standard blue jeans and unbuttoned flannel shirt, David Liebman could blend in with many of the young students walking to and from classes at Santa Rosa Junior College.

But Liebman, manager of energy and sustainability for the college district, has something bigger on his mind than class assignments and midterm projects.

Liebman, 27, is heading a $5 million electrical infrastructure project that addresses climate change and fundamentally will transform the way energy is distributed and used on campus.

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