California turns off power to millions to prevent forest fires

LOS ANGELES: Continuous blackouts affecting up to 8,00,000 customers began Wednesday in parts of California As a utility company, it disconnected power due to the hot and windy climate that increases the risk of forest fires.

Pacific Gas Electric, which announced the three-phase deliberate power cut , is working to prevent a repeat of a catastrophe last November in which power lines it owned were determined to have sparked California's deadliest ever.

In that hell, 85 people died and a city called Paradise was practically destroyed. The company was also responsible for dozens of other forest fires in recent years.

This is peak wildfire season in California.

PGu0026E said the severe weather incident prompting the precautions this time - hot, dry conditions and winds gusting at up to 70 mph (110 kph) - is expected to last through mid-day Thursday in parts of northern and central California.

The cut s could last up to a week in some places. Some 8,00,000 customers actually means millions of people will be affected.

The city of San Francisco it is not affected by the intentional closure, but much of the surrounding Bay area could be obscured, including parts of Silicon Valley .

The first part of the so-called Public Safety Power Shutoff began at midnight Tuesday into Wednesday in northern California in a broad swath of land that includes the Napa Valley wine country. It will affect around 513,000 customers there, the utility company said.

The rest of the area should start losing energy in waves around noon local time. A possible third third phase could take place later on the southernmost day.

Schools and universities canceled classes on Wednesday and people stocked up on gasoline, water, batteries and other basic items, according to press reports.

PGu0026E said it hoped to start reconnecting power on Thursday, but it can only do so after inspecting its equipment for damage and this could take days in some areas.