As fire weather conditions increase in San Diego County, San Diego Gas & Electric is warning customers they may need to shut off power over the Thanksgiving holiday to prevent wildfires.
The agency said more than 43,000 customers could be affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) while a red-flag warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday in San Diego County‘s mountains and valleys.
“Weather conditions change, and we have our team of professionals watching closely. However, we wanted to let our customers know as early as possible that they could be impacted so they can make alternate holiday arrangements if needed,” SDG&E chief safety officer Kevin Geraghty said in a written statement.
Customers could be without power through Saturday morning “depending on SDG&E‘s need and ability to physically inspect equipment during daylight hours prior to re-energizing.”
“Once conditions come back to normal, they will have people walk the lines … physically looking and using drones to make sure nothing has blown into a power line before they turn it back on,” said SDG&E spokesperson Denice Menard.
Those who may be affected can expect notification via phone, text message or email, SDG&E said. A list will also be available here sometime Tuesday. Customers can also be alerted to outages with the PSPS app.
SDG&E has an emergency center to monitor fire weather conditions around the clock using 220 weather stations with real-time data on wind, temperatures and humidity conditions, SDG&E said.
The state of California gives utility companies the ability to temporarily turn off power to specific areas to reduce the risk of wilfires caused by electric infrastructure.
According to the state, electric infrastructure has been responsible for less than 10% of reported wildfires but those attributed to power lines consist of about half of California’s most destructive fires.
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Cal Fire San Diego also advised residents not to be the start of wildfires.
“If you are gathering with family or doing outdoor cooking or traveling, make sure that you exercise extreme caution,” Cal Fire Capt. Frank LoCoco said. “The smallest spark can start a fire and during these conditions, a fire can grow quickly.”
“Just avoid any situation where you could inadvertently start a fire because with these conditions, those fires that start small can grow quite quickly,” he added.