Power outages set Saturday for 850,000, including customers in Tuolumne, Mariposa, Stanislaus

Thousands of customers in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties are among those bracing for potential power shutoffs this weekend as the strongest winds expected in months sweep into the area. Portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties also are expected to be affected.

Pacific Gas & Electric notified residents in areas including Sonora, Greeley Hill and Don Pedro that power will likely be shut down starting around 4 p.m. Saturday. Roughly 850,000 customers could be affected, the utility giant said in a press release issued Friday afternoon.

Customers can check https://psps.ss.pge.com/ to see if their address will be affected.

The shutdown comes as strong winds are expected to sweep into the area, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters issued a “high wind warning” from Saturday evening through Sunday evening and a “Fire Weather Watch” through Monday evening.

Affected communities in Stanislaus County include Oakdale, Patterson, Westley and Knights Ferry. Most of Stanislaus County gets its electricity service from Modesto Irrigation District or Turlock Irrigation District.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s office recommended that residents “be prepared to be without power for up to five days.”

Of paramount concern is critical wildfire danger throughout the state. Extreme winds Wednesday night fueled explosive growth on the Kincade Fire, which had grown to nearly 23,000 acres by Friday morning and led to mandatory evacuation orders for about 2,000 residents in and near the rural town of Geyserville.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday declared a state of emergency in Sonoma and Los Angeles counties due to the Kincade Fire and the Tick Fire, the latter of which has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Newsom traveled to the area impacted by the Kincade Fire Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile in Southern California, strong Santa Ana winds have led the 4,300-acre Tick Fire burning in Los Angeles County to threaten about 10,000 structures as of Thursday evening. More than 40,000 residents were under evacuation orders as of 7 a.m. Friday due to the fire, according to Cal Fire’s latest incident update.

Other areas affected by PG&E’s potential power shutoff include parts of Placer, El Dorado, Alameda, Marina and Contra Costa counties.

Should the shutoff occur, PG&E will open Community Resource Centers, which will provide snacks, water, WiFi and charging capability for medical devices, the sheriff’s office said.

Several businesses already were pledging to stay open and serve their customers. Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort said it will have power and remain open during any outages. And the Water Wheel Saloon in Columbia assured in a Facebook post Friday that its “Halloween Hullabaloo” set for Friday and Saturday nights would go on, almost as planned.

“Today we’re working on getting a generator situation going and figuring out lighting and sound,” the post said. “The pizza menu may be limited .... but the beers will pour and THE SHOW MUST GO ON !!”

Sheriff’s officials likewise urged people to be cautious but sensible.

“We urge everyone to plan for this event but remain calm,” the sheriff’s department said. “Tuolumne County residents are no strangers to power outages. The difference now, is we have time to prepare for this one!”

The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.

This story was originally published October 25, 2019 1:37 PM.

Patty Guerra is managing editor at The Modesto Bee. She has held several writing and editing roles since starting at The Bee in 1999. She’s a graduate of Fresno State.
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