SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric began turning off power to more than 50,000 Northern California customers Wednesday evening as dry, windy conditions renewed the threat of fire in a season already marked by deadly, devastating blazes.
The utility announced that it had begun cutting power to up to 33,000 customers, with about another 20,000 to follow in a few hours.
The shutoffs will affect portions of nearly two dozen counties, mostly in the Sierras and San Francisco Bay Area, and could last 48 hours.
(Bloomberg) — Hot and dry winds are sweeping across California, raising the prospect of more wildfires in the tinder-dry state where a record 4 million acres have already burned this year.
The winds rushing out of the north and east will rake Northern California through Friday and likely spread into the southern half of the state through the weekend, the National Weather Service said. The state’s largest utility, PG&E Corp., started cutting power to about 53,000 customers in 24 counties in its latest effort to keep gusts from knocking down live wires and igniting wildfires.
In addition, California’s grid operator called for energy conservation on Thursday in order to avoid rotating power outages amid a late autumn heat wave.
California has been plagued by wild weather all year: unprecedented heat, freak lighting storms, powerful gusts and a record-breaking wildfire season. The more than 8,500 blazes this year have killed 31 people and destroyed more than 9,200 homes and businesses, according to the state’s fire agency.
With its bright-yellow armored body, grippy tank-like treads, plow nose and water cannon, the Los Angeles Fire Department’s latest piece of equipment looks more like a Star Wars sidekick than a firefighting assistant.
But this mini robot tanker is an inferno buster that pack a powerful punch of water or foam and can go where firefighters otherwise can’t. The LAFD on Tuesday became the first fire department in the nation to acquire the Robotics Systems 3, a droid on steroids.
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said firefighters put their lives on the line when battling blazes. This year, 11 LAFD crew members were severely injured when a fireball engulfed four downtown buildings after a massive explosion that was ignited by hazardous materials.
Now, firefighters can use RS3 as a safer alternative in battling potentially explosive blazes and it allows the department to get inside a burning building when humans could not dare enter safely.
“I can afford to lose one of these wonderful machines, I cannot afford to lose a firefighter,” Terrazas said, admiring the control pad that remotely operates the firefighting drone.