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Extreme Wildfire Conditions Prompt PG&E Power Shutoff Monday Night

The Lime fire in the Klamath National Forest on Sept. 8, 2019.
The Lime fire in the Klamath National Forest on Sept. 8, 2019.

Strong winds and dry wildfire fuels caused Pacific Gas and Electric to begin an emergency power shutoff on Monday night across Northern California. The “public safety power shutoff” could affect as many as 172,000 customers across 22 counties.

In our region those include Humboldt, Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity and Tehama Counties.

The timing of the utility shutoffs varies by county. Residents in some parts of Shasta and Tehama should plan for shutoffs starting Monday night at 9 p.m. The next phase of shutoffs in Humboldt, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity and among the Hoopa Valley, Karuk and Yurok Tribes are expected to start on Tuesday at midnight.

During a Monday evening press conference, PG&E meteorologist Scott Strenfel described the factors leading up to the shutoff including a weather event where wind could reach 50 miles per hour in some places.

“Unfortunately, this wind event is occurring on the heels of the current heat wave and will produce critical fire potential conditions,” Strenfel says.

Most Northern California counties, and many in Oregon, are currently under red flag fire warnings.

According to a PG&E spokesperson, they hope to have power back on in affected communities by 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.