Power shutoffs creating hazardous conditions amid fire evacuations, say California officials

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Officials say they are prepared but that the power shutoffs and high winds are creating hazardous conditions for thousands forced to evacuate.

“We certainly have staff staged and ready for this wind event, in addition to of course firefighters that are actively fighting this fire,” Cal Fire Spokesperson Mary Eldridge told FOX40.

With dangerous fire weather expected throughout many parts of the state this weekend, crews inside the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services are ready and prepared for the worst.

Several wildfires, including the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, have forced thousands to evacuate.

“What we are anticipating is fire growth in that southwest area, so that is why we have an increase in the evacuation warnings for that area,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge says, there is also a potential for new starts caused by embers from the fire.

Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson with the Office of Emergency Services, says the state is dealing with a “challenging and complex” environment for millions of people, which is caused by the PG&E shutoffs.

PG&E announced they were shutting off power Saturday in parts of 38 counties – affecting about 2.5 million people.

Ferguson says those shutoffs could create increases hazards for people evacuating.

“We are very good at combatting wildfires, earthquakes, floods, but based on PG&E’s actions there are some additional consequences for the people of California,” Ferguson said.

As the Office of Emergency Services continues to operate at its highest level, officials are urging people in fire danger zones to stay ready and alert.

“Just like any other emergency it's really critical that the public be prepared,” Ferguson said.

There is still the potential for more shutoffs, but PG&E says the all-clear will be given Sunday night and Monday morning.

Power will not be restored for up to 48 hours after the all-clear as PG&E will have to inspect 31,000 miles.

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