San Diego Gas & Electric cut power to nearly 400 customers due to gusty Santa Ana winds as San Diegans cautiously waited out the potentially fire-fueling conditions.
The outages to customers in the Jacuma, Descanso, Santa Ysabel and Rincon areas -- which began Thursday night and were scheduled until 7 p.m. Friday --were part of a preventative measure made by the utility company due to extreme weather conditions.
A community resource center equipped with water, snacks and charging ports was opened at the Descanso Public Library for those affected.
SDG&E originally alerted 34,000 customers in "designated at-risk communities" that they may be affected by forced outages but on Thursday night reduced the number by nearly half, to 18,000.
This week's alert was issued during a Red Flag Warning for the inland valleys, foothills, and mountains, which cautioned the combination of gusty Santa Ana winds, hot temperatures and low humidity had the potential to rapidly spread any fire that sparks.
During the Red Flag Warning, winds were expected to average 30 miles per hour with isolated gusts of 60 miles per hour. Humidity would drop to five to 10 percent. The warning is set to expire Friday evening.
Customers alerted to planned outages were not given any scheduled time. Instead, SDG&E said they would continue to monitor weather conditions and alert customers if a shut off was necessary.
The utility made the decision at about 6:30 p.m. to cut power to the first few dozen customers. Within three hours, nearly 400 customers had been affected.
The communities that could be impacted are:
- Banner Grade
- East Alpine
- Mesa Grande
- Mt Laguna
- Oak Grove
- Palomar Mountain
- Pine Valley
- Santa Ysabel
- Valley Center
- Warner Springs
California is under the largest preventative outage in state history to try to avert wildfires caused by faulty lines. SDG&E, Southern California Edison and PG&E are all participating.
Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized PG&E and ordinary customers complained about the inconveniences caused by the unprecedented blackouts that began midweek and affected an estimated 2 million people in the Bay Area.
PG&E said they had already found cases of "damage or hazards" that came in contact with overhead lines.
"If they were energized, they could've ignited," Sumeet Singh, a vice president for the utility, said.
San Diego County Supervisor Diane Jacob has been critical of the forced power shut offs. On Thursday, she released a statement that read in part, "Power shutoffs should only be used as a last resort because they create serious public safety risks for our seniors, those dependent on medical devices and for folks who need electricity to pump well water. As always, SDG&E is putting itself first and looking to cover its liability rear end.
If the shutoffs last more than 24 hours, SDG&E said they are prepared to open Community Resource Centers to provide support to impacted customers. At these facilities, customers can get water, snacks, charge their phone and get the latest updates.