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California power cuts leave millions in the dark

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 10, 2019 - Duration: 01:56s

California power cuts leave millions in the dark

More than half a million California homes and workplaces had no electricity Wednesday after pre-cautionary power cuts to avoid wildfires.

Sareena Dayaram reports.

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California power cuts leave millions in the dark

More than half a million California homes and workplaces had no electricity Wednesday (October 9).

It's an unprecedented power cut to fight wildfires by the state's largest utility, PG&E Across north and central parts of the state, traffic signals went dark, businesses shut, and schools had to close.

They're afraid strong winds could down power lines- and start wildfires in extremely dry weather.

Those same conditions contributed to the Camp Fire last year the deadliest and most destructive blaze in California's history.

Utility authorities say a second phase of the power cuts is due to extend to more than 200-thousand customers and it could sweep to Southern parts of the state depending on how strong the winds get.

In the northern Californian town of Vacaville, gas stations were shut and busy traffic junctions were working on an honour system.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VACAVILLE RESIDENT, ANNA VIEIRA, SAYING: So, the traffic lights aren't working here so that I think is bizarre because hopefully people will behave and be kind and you know, be cooperative.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCAL WORKER, ANTONIO, SAYING: "Well I came today, you know I come to KFC all the time to get come get me some lunch and everything is closed and I look across the street and everything is closed over there.

Cutting the power off is really serious so if you need any gas or anything right now you guys should have got that yesterday." Damage to electrical lines caused by strong winds have sparked some of California's most devastating wildfires in recent memory.

Last year, the Camp Fire killed 85 people across the town of Paradise.

PG&E is facing tens of billions of dollars in liabilities after investigators found that power lines caused that disaster.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR, GAVIN NEWSOM, SAYING: "We're entering into a two-three-four-day period of extreme fire danger in the State of California." California's governor and PG&E have warned residents to get ready for outage that could last days.

They say every inch of power line must be checked.

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