50,000 L.A. County Residents Could Have Their Power Shut Off to Prevent Fires

SoCal Edison may join PG&E in preemptively blacking out homes as extreme winds roll in

California is bracing for what’s being termed an “extreme wind event,” just at the peak of a hot, dry fire season. Utilities across the state are rolling out planned power outages, in hopes of preventing electric lines from sparking massive wildfires. The latest company to announce a planned outage policy is SoCal Edison, which could cut power to as many as 120,000 customers across the region, including 50,000 in Los Angeles County.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning, set to go into effect starting Thursday in Los Angeles, the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, and San Gabriel Valleys, Ventura County, and portions of Orange County, as CBS Los Angeles reports. The government agency is warning of “critical fire weather conditions.”

SoCal Edison has deployed teams across the region, particularly to high-risk areas which are most likely to catch, to monitor the threat. If danger appears eminent, they’ll cut power to the lines.

“We understand this puts our customers into some inconvenience. This is about keeping the public safe,” company spokesman Phil Herrington told CBS. “The thing that we’re really concerned about with these conditions are objects blowing into our lines.”

LADWP released a statement on Thursday announcing that they will not be conducting a planned outage, citing its small territory as less prone to fire risk. “Our service area within the City of L.A. is highly urbanized with extensive fire suppression infrastructure in place and a Class 1 rated L.A. Fire Department,” the statement reads. “To put the service territories into context, PG&E serves an area approximately 70,000 square miles, Southern California Edison’s service area is 50,000 square miles, while the City of Los Angeles, served by LADWP, is approximately 465 square miles.”

This follows news that utility company PG&E is hitting dozens of counties in northern California with preemptive blackouts. Those outages, which could last until next week, are expected to impact over 2 million residents, and are being called the largest planned power shutoff in California history. Last year’s devastating Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history, was caused by electric lines owned and operated by PG&E, according to a CAL FIRE investigation.

RELATED: California Is Entering an Era of Endless Wildfires

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