PG&E power outage in California

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6:51 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

PG&E will begin restoring power to more than 270,000 customers

PG&E will begin restoring power to more than 270,000 customers in Northern California.

Crews will first inspect lines looking for potential weather-related damage. It is unclear how long the process will take.

Some background: PG&E says the shutdowns are to avoid sparking a wildlife. High winds, like those currently sweeping across Northern California, raise the risk for wildfire.

On Wednesday, the vice president of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program said: "We took this step to ensure safety as a last resort, and we are committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire events."

The wind is expected to subside Friday.

6:42 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Numerous homes destroyed in California brush fire

An brush fire burning in Calimesa, California, has already destroyed numerous homes, according to Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire Department.

At least 150 acres have burned and aerial views from CNN affiliate KABC show flames sweeping through a neighborhood.

2:48 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Brush fire burning in hills near San Francisco

A 3-alarm brush fire has burned at least 20 acres in Brisbane on San Bruno Mountain according to affiliate KGO. The fire is burning mainly grass and vegetation and is not threatening any structures at this time.

Earlier today, PG&E, California's largest utility, released a press release stating that there were no reported fires related to PG&E equipment in the areas affected by the shutdown.

The shutdown, which cut off power to 22 counties in northern California, was intended to avoid wildfire risks caused by high winds and dry weather.

It is unclear if the brush fire happened in an area affected by the shutdown.

2:23 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

PG&E begins restoring power, but not to the Bay Area

PG&E has started restoring power to some areas in Northern California while severe weather conditions threaten central and southern parts of the state.

Approximately 126,000 customers had power restored by 6 a.m. today, according to a press release from PG&E.

The utility company says the Bay Area has not yet been given the all-clear, as weather conditions are expected to remain dangerous until at least midday.

"After the weather has passed and it is safe to do so, our crews will work to visually inspect each mile of the impacted power lines to ensure they are free from damage and safe to energize,” a statement on PG&E’s website reads.

"We faced a choice between hardship or safety, and we chose safety. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience and the hardship, but we stand by the decision because the safety of our customers and communities must come first," Michael Lewis, Senior Vice President, Electric Operations for PG&E, said.

There are still approximately 600,000 customers without power as a result of the shutdown.

There were no reported fires related to PG&E equipment in the areas affected.

2:28 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Here's what it looks like in California as shutoffs continue

In northern California, around 800,000 customers have been left in the dark due to a planned power outage by PG&E, the state's largest utility.

Residents were given less than 24 hours to prepare and it's unclear when those affected will have electricity again.

In Red Bluff, California, only a donut shop was left with electricity.

Patrick @ItsPat_SB
Patrick @ItsPat_SB

Residents in Montclair, California waited in long lines to fill up on gas before the shortage.

Vassil Mladjov
Vassil Mladjov

Residents are stocking up on water.

Vassil Mladjov
Vassil Mladjov

2:48 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Tesla owners received a warning to charge cars ahead of power shutoffs

Tesla owners were given a preemptive over-the-air advisory telling them to charge up their electric cars ahead of the planned power outages in California.

Juan Hernández, a Tesla 3 owner who lives in the Bay area, received the warning on Tuesday at 9.15 p.m. while in San Jose. Hernández saw the warning in his car as well as Tesla's app.

Hernández also said he had two friends receive the same message and saw social media posts about the alert.

The Tesla Owners Club of Silicon Valley posted a similar warning on their Twitter account as well.

Hernández says he remains largely unconcerned given the broad range of charging options available to him.

“I can literally charge my car anywhere: I charge it at work (for free), at home, at any charger including Tesla’s superchargers, public chargers and even some free charging stations distributed all over the Bay Area,” Hernández said.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk tweeted that all Tesla Supercharger stations in regions affected by the outage would receive Tesla Powerpacks which provide backup power for the charging stations.

1:31 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

Power is out in Northern California and small businesses are suffering

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Tod Pickett, 58, runs Man Cave Placerville, a company that produces custom signs and decor. He says his business, along with others on Main Street in Placerville, was part of the first wave of outages. Pickett estimates he's lost thousands of dollars in revenue so far.

Pickett joked about his time away from work and how to recoup his losses when the power for his business returns and criticized PG&E's decision to cut power in an attempt to avoid wildfires:

I understand why they did this, to a point, but to inconvenience 800,000 residents, I think it’s a little excessive. It’s costing this state billions in lost revenue and people are losing food, people are losing revenue for not being able to work. It’s devastating, it’s third world country-ish.

Some background: The strategic shut-down in California is an attempt to counter the high wildfire risks caused by heavy wind and dry conditions. Earlier this year, PG&E agreed to pay billions of dollars in damages for its role in a series of disastrous California wildfires.

6:50 p.m. ET, October 10, 2019

PG&E intentionally cut power to hundreds of thousands customers to prevent wildfires

Rick Shaw bartends using light from a lantern during a planned power outage.
Rick Shaw bartends using light from a lantern during a planned power outage. BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL/AFP via Getty Images

California's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) cut off power to parts of 22 counties in northern California Wednesday. Roughly 500,000 customers have been affected by the outage, and numerous schools have cancelled classes.

Here's why: PG&E says the shutdowns are to avoid sparking a wildlife. High winds, like those currently sweeping across Northern California, raise the risk for wildfire.

On Wednesday, the vice president of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program said: "We took this step to ensure safety as a last resort, and we are committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire events."

The wind is expected to subside Friday. Then, PG&E crews will examine their system for damage and begin to restore power for customers left in the dark.

Some context: PG&E has agreed to pay billions of dollars in damages for its role in a series of disastrous California wildfires—including the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California's history.

Studies have linked climate change to the increase in size of California's destructive wildfires. Since the early 1970s, California wildfires have increased in size by eight times and the annual burned area has grown by nearly 500%, one study found.

10:35 a.m. ET, October 10, 2019

San Jose mayor: If streetlight at an intersection is not working, treat it as a four-way stop

With power cut off in 22 counties in California, street lights and other public utilities are shut down. What should you do if you reach an intersection without a working street light? Treat it as a four-way stop, according to San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo.

What to do: A four-way stop, also known as an all-way stop, requires all vehicles to come to stop at the intersection before proceeding.

If a driver arrives at the intersection and no other vehicles are present, the driver can proceed.

Tips from the California DMV:

  • Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection.
  • Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.
  • When you turn left, give the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching that are close enough to be dangerous. Also, look for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • When you turn right, be sure to check for pedestrians who want to cross the street and bicyclists riding next to you.

The California Department of Transportation recommends all drivers use caution at intersections during the power outage.