California: California`s largest utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on Saturday said that it will shut off power to 9,40,000 customers in what it called a "public safety power shutoff" across 36 counties in northern part of the state, as massive wildfires fueled by high winds and brittle conditions continue to rage in the region.
"As this weather system sweeps from north to south over a period of two to three days, PG&E customers across Northern and Central California will feel the effects of hot, dry winds at different times, which means outage times will vary as well," the utility said in a statement, as cited by CNN.
The outage is intended to prevent a 'catastrophic wildfire' during what is expected to be particularly dry and windy weather, officials said.
Over the last few weeks, the utility has been enacting preventative shutoffs all over northern and central California, but this weekend could be the largest this year. The wildfire has burned an estimated 25,455 acres and was 10 per cent contained as of Saturday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
More than 50,000 people have been evacuated, including the entire city of Healdsburg and the town of Windsor. "We do not take this lightly," Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick had told reporters. "We`re evacuating because this fire is very dangerous...," Essick added.
"The upcoming wind event has the potential to be one of the strongest in the last several years. It`s also likely to be longer than recent wind events, which have lasted about 12 hours or less," said Scott Strenfel, a PG&E meteorologist.