SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Soaring temperatures and the threat of gusty winds triggered a Red Flag fire warning for the Bay Area Friday and with it the threat of rolling power blackouts from Pacific Gas & Electric in an effort to prevent a deadly wildfire outbreak.
The National Weather Service predicted winds would begin howling across the North Bay hills Friday night with gusts from 40 to 50 mph over the highest peaks. The winds will be accompanied by soaring temperatures, forecast to reach into the 90s with humidity levels falling to 12-22 percent.
“The highest (fire) threat is located along the hills of eastern Napa County and around Mt Saint Helena,” the weather service warned. “Any grass fires that develop will likely spread rapidly…Although fuels are not at critical levels a weather event of this magnitude will allow fire to carry through finer fuels such as grass.”
The Red Flag Warning was to be in effect from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday.
In the wake of the warning, PG&E announced Friday that it might be proactively turning power off for safety in several Northern California counties within the next 18 to 36 hours.
“To help reduce the risk of wildfire and keep our customers, their families and their homes and businesses safe, the company may be turning off power in areas of the North Bay and the Sierra foothills where extreme fire risks exist,” the utility said in a statement.
PG&E officials said they were working with CAL FIRE, Cal OES and other state and local agencies.
“For the North Bay, there is the potential for a Public Safety Power Shutoff affecting several thousand customers starting around 6 a.m. on Saturday,” utility officials warned. “The peak period of fire risk lasts until around 1 p.m. on Saturday.”
Areas where power might be shut off included:
- Napa County: Portions of Napa, Lake Berryessa
- Solano County: Portions of Suisun City, Vacaville, Winters
- Yolo County: Portions of Davis, Winters
If you live in these communities, PG&E will attempt to contact you via telephone, text and email.