Southern California Edison cuts power to thousands of homes on Thanksgiving due to wildfire risk

National

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Dangerous conditions for wildfires were prompting Southern California Edison to consider shutting off electricity to more than 88,000 customers across five counties on Thanksgiving. By mid-afternoon, the utility had turned off power to nearly 5,000 customers in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, according to its website.

Given the risk of fires being sparked by wind-damaged power lines, the company warned about 2.1% of its 5 million customers — more than 100,000 people — that red flag warnings of extreme fire danger could derail their plans for the big meal. Combined, the 2,041 customers in Los Angeles County and 2,958 customers in Ventura County represent significantly less than 1% of the utility’s customer base. 

Forecasters said Santa Ana winds were expected to develop across a wide swath of Southern California over the course of the day. The gusts would affect the region from northwest of Los Angeles down to the Mexico border into the weekend, with timing and strength depending on location, according to the National Weather Service.
 
Santa Ana winds blow from the interior toward the coast, creating potentially critical fire conditions with the combination of vegetation-withering low humidity and powerful gusts, especially below mountain passes and canyons.
 
Common in the fall but possible at other times, the winds have fanned many catastrophic wildfires.

Another page on the power company’s website offered links to a handful of Southern California hotels that it said were offering discounted rates to Southern California Edison “customers experiencing an extended outage.”

California has already experienced a disastrous year of wildfires that have left 31 people dead and some 10,400 structures damaged or destroyed.

Despite the risk, CBS Los Angeles said some residents were unhappy about the potential of a dark Thanksgiving weekend.

“I talked to a lot of residents today and they are fed up,” said Mayor Acquanetta Warren of Fontana, in San Bernardino County. “It has been very frustrating… I get what the residents are feeling. I’m feeling it. We really need to come up with a better method.”

She noted to CBS Los Angles that Fontana is frequently windy and has thus been affected by previous shutoffs, and she said the power company was “never clear on how long the power outages will be.”

Southern California Edison’s website says the company seeks to turn the lights back on for any customers in affected areas, “as soon as the weather conditions permit, and crews have inspected the power lines to confirm it is safe to restore power.”

First published on November 26, 2020 / 5:21 AM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local News

More Local

Trending Stories

Sidebar