IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Power outages planned for nearly 500,000 as California braces for more fires

Red flag warnings are in effect for much of Northern California through Tuesday.
Image: San Francisco fires
Seen from Alameda, Calif., a grass fire burns in South San Francisco on Oct. 16, 2020.Noah Berger / AP file

Authorities in California, already grappling with the most ravenous fire season ever, were preparing for more Friday as fire weather was set to return to the northern half of the state over the weekend.

Utility Pacific Gas and Electric said Friday it may have to cut power to 466,000 customers in portions of 38 counties Sunday, when red flag fire conditions were forecast from the San Jose area to Oregon.

PG&E, convicted of manslaughter in the state's deadliest fire in 2018, has been cutting electricity in fire-prone areas as a precaution during red-flag weather.

The forecast for Sunday includes northerly gusts of up to 70 mph and humidity as low as 5 percent. High temperatures in the low 70s were expected, according to the National Weather Service. Red flag warnings are in effect for much of Northern California through Tuesday.

"This event could bring the strongest winds seen this year," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant said by email.

"The winds are expected to be widespread across much of Northern California, but it's the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and the North Bay where the highest winds are expected," he said.

Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round said the agency was deploying extra personnel to fire-prone areas. "We are staffing up because of the wind event," she said.

The city of Berkeley is advising residents of its hilly areas to prepare.

"With high fire danger starting Sunday at 11 a.m., everyone, especially residents in the Berkeley hills, should stay on heightened alert, keep phones charged and nearby, and consider leaving the hills before Sunday afternoon — especially if they would have trouble getting out quickly in a fire," it said in a statement Friday.

The state's Office of Emergency Services advised residents of Northern California to be prepared with cash, drinking water, fueled-up vehicles, charged-up cellphones and personal protective equipment in case they have to evacuate at a moment's notice.