Tag Archives: California blackouts

PG&E admits it may have sparked Kincade fire even with power shutdown to prevent fires

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.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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California man who relied on oxygen pump died 12 minutes after PG&E cut power to prevent fires

From Daily Mail: A Northern California man dependent on oxygen died just 12 minutes after Pacific Gas and Electric shut down power to the area as part of an effort to prevent fires.

El Dorado County Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan said on Friday that a call was placed to the fire department from Pollock Pines after 3.30am on Wednesday. Crews arrived at the scene and found Robert Mardis Sr., 67, unresponsive and were unable to revive him, according to the Mountain Democrat.

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

Mardis Sr.’s daughter, Marie Aldea, told FOX 40 that her father had several health issues and she believes the power cuts were involved in his death.

She said: ‘He had health issues. He had really bad COPD, which didn’t help, and he had congestive heart failure and other health issues, but the power going off and him not being able to get to his oxygen is, I believe, is what did it.’

Mardis Sr.’s oxygen tank reportedly lost power during PG&E’s power shutdown and he was unable to reach his battery-operated oxygen tank in time.

‘He’ll never see my kids get married, he’ll never see his grandchildren,’ Aldea said. ‘How do you fix that? You don’t. You can’t. Something got taken away from me that I can never get back, and I will miss my father forever.’

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said it has not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report.The power company told Fox 40: ‘We have no information on incident and have not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report. We refer you to local officials in El Dorado County.’

Governor Gavin Newson spoke out on Friday about the tragic death. ‘Losing a family member is horrific and to the extent this was the reason why, I hope that is investigated and I hope those responsible are held to account,’ he said.

The news of his death comes on the heels of the deaths of two others from the wildfires on Thursday: a man in his 50s who suffered cardiac arrest and Lois Arvickson, 89, after a fire swept through her mobile home park. It’s unclear whether the unnamed victim was pronounced dead at his home or in another location.

Winds gusted dangerously as forecast before calming in Northern California, where PG&E faced hostility and second-guessing over its widespread shutoffs.

Governor Gavin Newsom criticized PG&E and ordinary customers complained about the inconveniences caused by the unprecedented blackouts that began midweek.

PG&E, though, suggested it was already seeing the wisdom of its decision borne out as gusts topping 77mph raked the San Francisco Bay Area amid a bout of dry, windy weather.

‘We have found multiple cases of damage or hazards’ caused by heavy winds, including fallen branches that came in contact with overhead lines,’ said Sumeet Singh, a vice president for the utility company. ‘If they were energized, they could’ve ignited.’

Because of the dangerous weather in the forecast, PG&E cut power on Wednesday to an estimated two million people in an area. PG&E said on Friday that it has restored electricity to about 543,000 businesses and residences.

Another 195,000 customers had remained 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.

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The coroner has determined that PG&E wasn’t at fault for this man’s death. That was quick…

DCG

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