Man, California is a hot mess of a state.
From Daily Mail: Pacific Gas & Electric admitted its electrical equipment may have ignited a ruinous wildfire that spread across California’s wine country on Friday despite blackouts imposed across the region to prevent blazes.
The company said it didn’t de-energize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that malfunctioned and finding a “broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower around 9.20pm on Wednesday.
Seven minutes later, the so-called Kincade Fire erupted in Sonoma County, near the town of Geyserville, forcing about 2,000 evacuations, burning 49 structures and leaving huge swathes of the state without power.
It was whipped up by the strong winds that had prompted PG&E to impose sweeping blackouts affecting a half-million people in Northern and Central California.
Just five percent of the fire is contained after 21,900 acres were burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the state’s firefighting agency.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment started the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in ‘excellent condition.’
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson
The disclosure came as firefighters simultaneously battled flames in Sonoma County’s vineyards, and a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed homes near Los Angeles.
Currently, there are seven active wildfires are raging across California that have burned nearly 35,000 acres.
In Northern California, the active fires are the Cabrillo Fire, Kincade Fire, Muir Fire and Nelson Fire. Meanwhile, the Mines Fire, Saddle Ridge Fire and Tick Fire are blazing in Southern California. Punishing Santa Ana winds pushed the Tick Fire into Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, burning at least six homes and putting as many as 50,000 people under evacuation orders.
In just a few hours, the blaze, one of four in the area, went from scorching a few hundred acres to more than 4,000, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Only five percent of it was contained as of Friday morning.
The threat of hot, dry, winds driving flames far and wide was met with fleets of aircraft and more than 500 firefighters on the ground, who tried to protect homes where backyards were surrounded by trees and brush.
‘We know of at least six [homes that have burned] but that number may rise,’ Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger in a news conference on Thursday night. ‘We cannot let our guard down. We’re going to fight this aggressively.’
About 10,000 structures are threatened, but it is unknown how many have been damaged or destroyed, reported CNN. No injuries were reported but fire officials say a firefighting helicopter was struck by a bird and its windshield damage, forcing it out of the fight until Friday.
Alejandro Corrales tearfully watched her home burn on a ridge in Canyon Country, taking with it her mother’s ashes, other belongings and possibly a pen full of pet sheep. Luckily, her daughter managed to take some small pets and all three of her children were safe. You start thinking about all the things you can’t get back,’ Corrales told KCBS-TV.
‘Everything in the house is gone, the panels on one of the pens where we have some rescued sheep was too hot for my daughter to open and so she couldn’t let them out … so I’m probably sure that we lost them, too.’
The Santa Ana winds, with gusts of 45mph to 60mph, are expected to continue through the weekend and into early next week.
Southern California Edison, which cut power to more than 31,000 customers on Thursday, was considering additional power cuts to more than 386,000 customers. The shutdowns were designed to prevent fierce winds from hurling branches into power lines or toppling them, sparking wildfires.
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