It was a dark Thanksgiving for many Californians after fear of wildfires led to power shutoffs.
Southern California Edison began cutting power to thousands of residents on Thanksgiving, according to KCAL-TV, and by Friday morning, about 16,000 people in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Orange and Kern counties were still without power.
The trigger for the shutoffs was a “Red Flag” warning that was extended through Saturday due to a lack of rain that has created dry conditions on California woodlands, coupled with anticipated winds gusts as high as 50 to 65 miles per hour.
The Red Flag Warning for the LA/VTA mtns, Santa Clarita Vly, and VTA valleys has been EXTENDED through Sat 6pm! RH in the single digits to teens are expected Fri/Sat along with Santa Ana winds gusting 50-65 in the mtns and 40-55 in the vlys. High fire danger is expected! #CAwx pic.twitter.com/DvZwDuQ7BB
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) November 27, 2020
Our Santa Ana winds are weakening slowly, but very dry fuels and dry air persist, with High Fire Danger lasting through Sat afternoon, esp for L.A. & Ventura Co Mtns, the Santa Clarita Valley & Ventura Valleys. Be extra cautious, avoid creating sparks and report any smoke! #cawx pic.twitter.com/D4YIXC3TXt
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) November 28, 2020
Pre-emptive power shutoffs have become common in California to avert downed lines starting wildfires.
But that’s not much comfort for residents such as Jeannie Murray, who lives in the Simi Country Mobile Home Estates and ended up with a ruined Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the shutoff.
She also had no heat and no effective way to even warm up.
“Right now, it’s 58 degrees in the house. It’s 58. We’ve been bundled up with sheets, and blankets and every solitary thing you can imagine,” she told KCAL, noting that with the power off, there’s no chance of a hot cup of coffee.
Murray said she feared her food would keep spoiling, just as it did in the summer when a shutoff left her in the dark.
“I’m just worried it’s going to happen again,” she said. “I cannot keep trying to buy food. I can’t do it. It’s too expensive and everything. I want to cry. I’m sorry about this. It just frightens me.”
Jim Yncera, the manager of the mobile home community, said the power company should do more for its customers than just shut off their power.
“Edison could come out and perhaps maybe put some generators out here, or come out here and try to help these people,” he said.
The utility said it was doing what was right.
“SCE does not shut off power based only on weather forecasts — rather, based on actual conditions in the affected areas,” utility spokesman Jeff Monford told KABC-TV.
He said that he hoped power could be restored for affected customers within 24 hours.
“If your power has been shut off, we will restore power as soon as the weather conditions permit, and crews have inspected the power lines to confirm it is safe to restore power,” the company said in a statement.
As of 11 p.m. Friday night, though, the company said fewer than 500 customers were still without power, KCAL reported.
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