Continued hot, windy weather means hundreds of thousands of households across Northern California can expect to be without power for several more days.
Meteorologist Scott Strenfel with Pacific Gas and Electric told a press conference Wednesday night that the current weather pattern is a dangerous Diablo windstorm that produced gusts as high as 50 miles per hour in the Redding area.
"These events, historically, are the events that caused the most destructive wildfires in California history," he said.
To reduce the risk of its transmission equipment sparking a wildfire, the utility cut power to customers in 34 of California’s 58 counties. That includes parts of Shasta, Tehama, Humboldt, Trinity, Lake, Butte and Mendocino Counties.
PG&E’s equipment was found to be responsible for sparking several devastating wildfires during hot, windy weather in recent years
Utility officials say even after the winds subside, it could take several days to inspect and re-energize thousands of miles of power line.
Company exec Sumeet Singh said at a press conference last night the winds are expected to begin subsiding by mid-day Thursday. But, he added, utility workers will need to thoroughly inspect thousands of miles of power line for damage before turning the juice back on.
"Based on the large number of outages, and the potential unknowns in regards to the amount of damage to our system -- we only know that as we start the visual safety inspections – it could take several days to fully restore power," he said.
Singh conceded the combination of hot, windy weather, heavy vegetation near power lines – and a maintenance backlog -- creates a wildfire hazard that could have NorCal residents facing more precautionary blackouts in the future.