This weekend marked the first time PG&E shut off power to customers under a new policy to help prevent wildfires.
The policy is meant to avoid new fires caused when things like trees or branches blow into power lines.
It goes into effect in certain areas designated by infrastructure, topography and fuels when weather conditions reach a dangerous threshold.
Dangerous fire weather is a combination of weather conditions: it’s dry, it’s hot and it’s windy.
A red flag warning is issued for wind gusts of at least 30 miles per hour for more than three hours and relative humidities less than 20%.
CALFIRE Battalion Chief Chris Waters says a red flag warning often means crews are strategically moved to different areas of the state called a staffing pattern, “High winds mean rapid fire development if we do happen to get an ignition.”
PG&E spokesperson Denny Boyles says the policy has been years in coming, “Most customers that live in these areas should have already seen communications from us.”
Once off, power will remain off until after the weather event and a visual inspection of the lines.
“Our crews will then go out and inspect the lines and look for any damage that may have occurred through the night.”
PG&E can control power circuit by circuit.
“You could have a situation where the community has power but outlying areas do not. It’s just following the guidelines of this program to protect the public.”
PG&E is reminding customers to check their contact information because they provide notice when an event is imminent.