Forecasters predicted that critical fire weather conditions would develop in Northern California’s interior, and an electric utility has announced the possibility of power cuts for parts of eight counties, to prevent ignitions, if there are any downed wires or damage.
The National Weather Service said that red flag fire warnings would be in effect in the Sacramento Valley, and parts of Lake County adjacent to it, from Tuesday evening until Wednesday night due to northerly gusts and low humidity.
Pacific Gas & Electric has said that power outages for public safety could start at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. This would affect 8,500 customers, mainly in the west side Sacramento Valley.
These shutoffs aim to prevent fires when power lines are knocked down by wind or hit by trees or debris blown by the wind. These fires caused extensive damage and deaths, but shutoffs also drew fierce criticism.
Hawaii has raised the issue after a deadly fire destroyed the Maui town of Lahaina. Maui County alleges Hawaiian Electric Company failed to cut the power in spite of high winds and dry weather conditions. Utility admits that its lines caused the fire, but blames the county firefighters for leaving the scene after declaring it contained.
California has avoided wildfires in the state this year due to an unusually wet winter, and a cool spring which melted mountain snow slowly. The recent tropical storm Hilary brought downpours that further soaked the southern half.
Lightning ignited several fires in the far north near the Oregon border and in the deserts of the southeast. The Smith River Complex is the largest group and has scorched over 115 square kilometers.