SoCal Edison cuts power to more than 5,000 homes on Thanksgiving amid wildfire concerns

More than 5,000 Southern California Edison customers in Ventura and Los Angeles counties were without power on Thanksgiving evening, with 100,000 more at risk of having the lights turned out as high winds led to elevated wildfire risk, officials said.

a traffic light hanging from a pole: A Southern California Edison lineman grounds a power line in La Habra. (Los Angeles Times)

© Provided by The LA Times
A Southern California Edison lineman grounds a power line in La Habra. (Los Angeles Times)

Homes in areas including Simi Valley, Moorpark and Santa Clarita were affected by outages as part of the utility company’s public safety power shutoff program, which is intended to reduce the risk that electrical systems become an ignition point for wildfires.

As of 5 p.m., 3,015 customers were without power in Ventura County and 2,127 in L.A. County, according to an outage map managed by the utility company. An additional 106,461 customers could see their power shut off in Ventura, L.A., Kern, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, depending on weather conditions, according to the company.

The shutoffs were being enacted as meteorologists warned of potential Santa Ana wind gusts of up to 65 mph across parts of the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains. Ventura and Los Angeles counties are both under red flag warnings this weekend, meaning conditions are ideal for wildfires to ignite.

The utility company said its decision to implement risk-based shutoffs was based on information gathered from hundreds of weather stations and wildfire cameras.

“We are really sympathetic about this happening, number one, during the pandemic when people are at home, and two, during the holiday,” said Jeff Monford, a senior advisor with Edison International, who said some of the affected customers included company employees.

Customers were first notified of the potential outages on Tuesday, Monford said. The company also established resource centers and dispatched trucks in some of the affected areas to provide water, snacks and power charging stations, he said.

Edison came under scrutiny earlier this year after the company admitted that the Bobcat fire, which scarred 115,000 acres in L.A. County and destroyed dozens of homes, may have started after tree branches struck its equipment.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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