Wildfires, Lights Out in California

Posted on Oct 31, 2019

The California wildfire seasons of 2017 and 2018 were the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history-- while October 2019 made some wildfire history of its own.

The Caples Fire, the Palisades Fire, Old Water Fire, Getty Fire, Copper Fire, 46 Fire, Hill Fire, Burris Fire, Easy Fire, Tick Fire, Saddle Ridge, and Kincaid Fire scorched thousands of acres in California and forced mass-scale evacuations. With red flag warnings issued, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Sunday, October 27. This wildfire outbreak occurred in conjunction with multiple wind events over several weeks that, in addition to the wildfires, led to new largescale power disruptions known as Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.

In 2017 and 2018, several of the extremely damaging and deadly wildfires in both southern and northern California were blamed on active power lines. In response to this, three major utility companies, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) created Public Safety Power Shutoff events. These events are designed to de-energize power lines, which decreases the chance that a power line will create or encourage the spread of wildfire. In essence, the idea is to shut off power to millions of people in an effort to prevent new blazes.

The first PSPS event occurred on September 23 for PG&E and SCE customers. Several others have occurred since then with the most recent and ongoing PG&E PSPS impacting upwards of 970,000 customers in 38 counties in portions of northern and central California. On Monday October 28, PG&E announced that the “all-clear” had been given and they began working on restoring power to the affected customers. At the same time, however, PG&E also announced that a new PSPS event would be enacted beginning on Tuesday, October 29 and Wednesday, October 30.

As of October 31, about 206,000 homes and businesses in California were still without electricity.

PG&E and SCE have created dedicated PSPS event pages on their websites, detailing specifics about outages, outage maps, and community resource centers.

Advance warning and accurate real-time analysis of large-scale disasters make a significant difference in mitigating risk and deciding how and when to act. Having some lead time to secure assets and ensure the safety of employees can make a big difference.

NC4, an Everbridge company, can provide intelligence and assessments on the impact of natural disasters when it matters most. Email us at info@NC4.com or call 1-888-366-4911 to speak with an NC4 risk management specialist and dramatically increase your ability to prepare and respond to risks.

 

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