Hundreds of thousands of California homes and businesses started to lose electric power early Wednesday as part of an unprecedented effort by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.to prevent wildfires, the utility said.
More than 600,000 people across Santa Clara, San Mateo, Napa and Sonoma County could be affected by the planned shut off, created to prevent downed power lines from sparking blazes.
In Emeryville, just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, the Home Depot was almost sold out of back-up generators by Tuesday morning.
The city of San Francisco isn't covered by PG&E's shutoffs.
Meanwhile, Edison International's Southern California Edison utility said it was weighing cutting power to 106,000 homes and businesses, majority in the mountains east of Los Angeles.
Electricity is expected to be cut on Wednesday amid dry winds that pose a wildfire danger. The utilities haven't said how many people the outages will affect in all.
The second phase, expected to impact 235,000 customers, was set for central and northern parts of the state at about noon Wednesday.
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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday urged residents and businesses to prepare to be without electricity for as much as a week, saying the outages could affect nearly 2 million people.
"In Northern California, the big fire concern is when we see what we're going to see midweek, " said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
In 1991, a grass fire torched the Oakland Hills, killing 25 people and destroying more than 3,000 homes.
PG&E's statement lists cities and unincorporated towns in each county that may be partially impacted, and gives an estimated number of outages for each county, but does not predict how many customers or in which portions of each city the blackouts are being considered.
In the largest preventive outage in state history, two California power utilities will cut power to more than 900,000 customers from Wednesday midnight to curb new wildfires. We want to hear your questions about the shutoffs in general and how to prepare for them.
Customers have been encouraged to stockpile a week's worth of food and water and have plenty of batteries to keep electronics fully charged.
Miracle added that PG&E is now looking into using the local King Salmon power plant to offset any shutoffs.
Sheriff's OES has notified community partners including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, Humboldt Senior Resource Center, PACE, Open Door Community Health Centers and other critical service providers in the county.
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Previous ones involved rural areas prone to wildfires.
A Pacific Gas & Electric worker exiting a truck in San Francisco.
On September 13, the utility giant announced it had reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies for claims stemming from the devastating 2017 wildfires across northern California and the 2018 Camp Fire.
Southern California Edison said it's considering cutting power to more than 100,000 customers in eight counties.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention said it increased staffing in preparation for extreme fire weather and what was expected to be the strongest wind event so far this fire season.
According to Cal Fire, the state's top five most destructive fires in terms of structures lost all happened between September and November, with three of them in October. "Residents need to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice in the event of a wildfire".
If you have a backup generator, please do a safety check and make sure you have enough fuel to last a few days.
Law enforcement in the affected areas are warning motorists to take extra care on the streets and to bear in mind that traffic lights will not be functioning over the shut-down period.
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