USA TODAY US Edition
Amid blackouts, almost 200K told to flee wildfires
California utility says more outages possible
SAN FRANCISCO – Close to 200,000 Northern California residents, many of them left in the dark by a third power shutdown in a month, have been ordered to leave their homes as historic winds fueled an explosion of wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, shut off power to an estimated 2.3 million people across 38 counties starting Saturday in an effort to avoid having its equipment spark fires amid dry conditions and powerful winds. A similar precautionary move did not prevent the Kincade Fire from igniting Wednesday, and early indications point to malfunctioning PG&E equipment as the cause of it.
On Sunday afternoon, PG&E announced it was monitoring another drywind event that could trigger yet another power outage Tuesday and Wednesday, the third such blackout in a week and fourth in October. Up to 32 counties in Northern California could be affected.
The Kincade Fire has grown to 30,000 acres and was 10% contained as of Sunday morning, forcing authorities to impose mandatory evacuations for 180,000 residents in Sonoma County.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency.
“This is the largest evacuation that any of us … can remember,” the Sonoma County Sheriff ’s Office tweeted Sunday morning, warning later that the winds were starting to whip up again.
The fire has destroyed 79 structures. No fatalities have been reported.
“This is the largest evacuation that any of us … can remember.”
Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Tweet about Kincaid Fire