The potential power outages for public safety could happen before the holidays.
Nearly 200,000 Southern California customers may be without electricity over the Thanksgiving holiday as two utility companies consider shutting down power over a fire hazard.
In the counties of Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura, more than 151,000 customers could be affected by Edison power outages in Southern California, while more than 43,000 customers in the mountains of San Diego and inland Orange County could be affected. affected by shutdowns by San Diego Gas & Electric.
At 10 p.m. local time in California on Wednesday, some 23,000 customers had their power cut, mostly in high wind areas. San Diego Gas & Electric said it represents less than 1% of its 5 million customers and includes 7,515 customers in Los Angeles County, 5,922 customers in Ventura County, 5,163 customers in San Bernadino County, 3,524 customers in Riverside County and 1,637 customers in Orange District.
Red flag warnings for a critical fire hazard are in effect from Los Angeles to San Diego, with forecasts of Santa Ana winds up to 70 mph and relative humidity in the single digits.
The warnings will be in effect Wednesday through much of Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Utilities in the west prone to wildfires often use public safety power cut-offs (PSPS) to reduce the risk of fire from a live power line. San Diego Gas & Electric warned customers to make alternative vacation arrangements in the event of a PSPS.
“We recognize that PSPS events create hardship for our customers and communities, especially with so many people working and learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Southern California Edison website states. “We’ve heard a clear message from our customers, regulators, government officials and public safety partners that the company needs to do more to reduce the need for PSPS.”
California remains a tinderbox for wildfires because of a decades-long megadrought and arid conditions exacerbated by climate change.
Melissa Griffin and David Herndon of ABC News contributed to this report.