The Latest: 97% of blackout customers have power restored

October 12, 2019 GMT
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In this Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 photo, firefighters check on homes in smoke from the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, Calif. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
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In this Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 photo, firefighters check on homes in smoke from the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, Calif. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the power shutoff involving California wildfires (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric says it’s restored power to 97% of the customers it deliberately blacked out because of weather-related fire concerns.

PG&E reports Friday night that of the estimated 738,000 homes and businesses it deliberately blacked out Wednesday, only 21,000 are still without electricity.

The outage affected portions of 35 counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, wine country, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills. PG&E was concerned that dry, gusty winds would down power lines or throw debris into them, sparking brushfires. PG&E equipment was blamed for a deadly November fire.

Winds gusting to 70 mph (112 kph) were reported Wednesday and Thursday. The utility says there were 30 instances of weather-related damage to its system during the shutoff.


6:50 p.m.

An autopsy has concluded that a planned power shutdown did not cause the death of a Northern California man who depends on oxygen equipment.

The El Dorado Count Sheriff’s office said Friday that 67-year-old Robert Mardis died from severe coronary disease.

The office said the power outage was not a cause of his death and that the investigation has closed.

Pacific Gas & Electric had shut off power to roughly 2 million people due to wildfire risk. It says electricity will be restored to 98% by Saturday.

6:45 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it expects to restore power to 98% of some 2 million people affected by the utility’s deliberate blackout by the end of the day.

The utility announced Friday that crews have been making excellent progress declaring power lines safe.

The power was shut off earlier this week to customers in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Central Valley and San Francisco Bay Area.

PG&E announced Friday evening that power had been restored to 96% of customers in the Bay Area and 89% systemwide, with the inspection and repair work continuing.

PG&E began the sweeping blackouts Wednesday to prevent its power lines from being hit with tree branches or other debris and sparking deadly fires during dry, windy weather.


4:40 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., says crews discovered four sections of wind-related damage after the company cut power twice during windy weather weeks before Wednesday’s massive cuts.

The company reported to state regulators Friday that crews found vegetation on utility equipment before restoring power during the outages on Sept. 23 and Sept. 25. Crews also found and repaired one damaged conductor.

The first outage affected 26,000 customers in the Sierra foothills and the second hit 49,000 customers in the foothills and the North Bay.

PG&E officials say that they under-reported the number of customers who were affected at the time. That’s because a substation in Oroville lost power only briefly when some of the lines feeding it were shut off. They also didn’t initially count properties in Paradise with inactive accounts.

The utility cut power to nearly 2 million people earlier this week to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.


4:25 p.m.

The daughter of a Northern California man who died when his oxygen equipment failed during a planned power shutdown says she doesn’t understand why Pacific Gas & Electric Co. turned off the electricity.

The utility cut power to nearly 2 million people Wednesday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.

Marie Aldea told KTXL-TV in Sacramento Friday that her 67-year-old father Robert Mardis Sr. may have not been able to reach his battery-operated backup machine in time when the power went out around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Mardis, who had been sleeping, died about 12 minutes after the shut down.

A PG&E spokesman said earlier Friday that it had not confirmed the accuracy of the report.


1:20 p.m.

Northern California fire officials say a man dependent on oxygen died about 12 minutes after Pacific Gas and Electric shut down power to the area as part of a massive effort to prevent fire.

El Dorado County Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan said Friday that fire personnel responded to a call in Pollock Pines that came in after 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

He said crews arrived to find an unresponsive man in his 60s and were unable to revive him.

Ogan said the man’s oxygen equipment required power but could not say whether the shutdown was related to his death.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said it has not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report.

The utility started turning off electricity early Wednesday in Northern and Central California in advance of strong, dry winds.


6:50 a.m.

Pacific Gas and Electric says it has restored power to more than half of the nearly 2 million people left in the dark in Northern California after the utility shut down power to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.

PG&E says it has restored electricity to about 426,000 businesses and residences. Another 312,000 customers remain without power. Experts say a customer includes between two and three people.

Areas without power includes Plumas, Yuba and Butte counties, where people are on their third day without electricity. Butte County is where a fire started by PG&E equipment last year decimated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The utility says power also remain out in of Kern County in the southern part of the state’s agricultural Central Valley, where strong winds prompted PG&E to cut power on Thursday.

The utility it was able to restore power after winds subsided and workers could inspect its power lines.


4 a.m.

A wildfire fueled by Santa Ana winds has closed two freeways, is threatening homes and has forced evacuations around Los Angeles.

Fire officials say the Saddleridge fire had consumed more than 4,600 acres by 3 a.m. Friday.

It broke out after 9 p.m. Thursday along the 210 Freeway and jumped the highway. Flames also crossed the 5 Freeway. The highways were closed because of heavy smoke.

Authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations in the Granada Hills, Porter Ranch and Oakridge Estates neighborhoods.

Several homes were seen burning in Granada Hills, and the LA fire department said an “unknown number” of homes were potentially threatened.

There were no reports of injuries.

The blaze comes as hot, dry winds are raising concerns that the region’s largest utility could widen power shutoffs to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires.


10:15 p.m.

Hot, dry winds sweeping into Southern California raised concerns that the region’s largest utility could widen power shutoffs Friday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires.

Southern California Edison turned off electricity to about 20,000 people but warned that thousands more could lose service as Santa Ana winds gained strength.

Meanwhile Winds gusted dangerously as forecast in Northern California before weather conditions eased and the lights started to come back on. Planned blackouts affected millions and Pacific Gas & Electric faced hostility and second-guessing for its widespread shutoffs.

Over 500,000 PG&E customers were still waiting for power to come back on as of Thursday night.