The Latest: Sacramento fire crews battle dozens of blazes

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on power outages in California (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

The Sacramento Fire Department says it has responded to 48 fires over the last 24 hours amid dry, windy weather and a preventive blackout by California's largest utility affecting more than 1 million people.

The department says fire crews put out fires in three commercial buildings, three homes and halted many grass and brush fires.

The department posted a video on Twitter Thursday showing firefighters dousing the roof of a burning house with water as nearby trees swayed in the wind.

National Weather Service meteorologist Karleisa Rogacheski says the Sacramento Valley is experiencing wind gusts of nearly 30 mph (48 mph).

Farther north in California, winds were gusting at 60 mph at mountain peaks in Sierra and Tehama County. Rogacheski says lighter winds are forecast for later Thursday.


10 a.m.

California State University, San Bernardino, has canceled classes at its main campus due to a potential power shutdown aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires as the region's notorious Santa Ana winds develop.

The campus at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles is in one of the areas where Southern California Edison is considering a so-called public safety power shutoff Thursday so power lines don't topple and spark fires. About 1.5 million people in Northern California have lost power because of the same risk.

Northwest of Los Angeles, the Fillmore Unified School District has canceled classes and all activities Thursday and Friday due to potential loss of power.

The National Weather Service says the Santa Ana winds have begun developing.

The Santa Anas have been involved in the spread of many destructive wildfires in Southern California.


9:30 a.m.

The largest U.S. utility has turned power back on for about a fifth of the nearly 2 million people who lost power in California over a two-day span in a deliberate move to prevent its equipment from sparking. 

Pacific Gas & Electric spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin the utility cut power to about 750,000 customers starting Wednesday but was working to restore power Thursday, starting in the northern and rural Humboldt County.

Experts estimate there are between two to three people for each electrical customer.

Subbotin says the utility is closely monitoring strong winds developing in central California's Kern County, where 4,000 customers could lose power later Thursday.

The utility began cutting electricity Wednesday to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and starting wildfires amid heavy winds and extreme fire danger.


9:25 a.m.

Los Angeles authorities say they will evacuate homeless people from camps in critical fire danger areas as dangerous Santa Ana winds develop.

Officials say the clearing of the camps is expected to begin Thursday and residents will be given verbal warnings.

Los Angeles Police Detective Meghan Aguilar says officers can arrest people if they refuse to leave after they get a verbal warning but called that a rare occurrence.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart says the evacuations will be within designated fire danger zones. A map on the department's website shows zones along the city's northern border, as well as to the west in Topanga State Park and other areas.

Southern California Edison warns that it might cut power to nearly 174,000 customers in nine counties.


8:30 a.m.

A federal bankruptcy court judge will allow input from a group of creditors and California wildfire victims who are trying to wrest control of the restructuring of Pacific Gas & Electric from the utility's shareholders.

PG&E shares plunged early Thursday following the ruling Wednesday by Judge Dennis Montali in San Francisco. The utility has cut off power to about 1.5 million California residents to prevent power lines from toppling to the ground and sparking fires.

The judge said that "a dual-track plan" may help in negotiations for a resolution.

Before the creditors and fire victims joined forces, Montali had given PG&E the exclusive right to plan how it will emerge from the bankruptcy forced by extraordinarily destructive wildfires linked to its electrical equipment.


8 a.m.

The University of California, Berkeley has canceled classes for a second day, saying the campus has no electricity.

The college's closure Thursday came after it also canceled classes Wednesday ahead of the planned power outage by Pacific Gas and Electric to prevent its power lines from toppling and sparking wildfires amid dry, windy weather.

In the city of Oakland next to Berkeley, the school district said nine schools would close Thursday because of the outages put in place by the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility.

Utility spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin says there are 600,000 customers in the dark in Northern California. Experts say there are between two and three people for each electrical customer.

Subbotin says the utility continues to watch the weather and has not yet decided on cutting power to more people.

She says the utility has already restored power to 126,000 residences and homes.


7 a.m.

More than 1.5 million people in Northern California are without power, some for a second day, as strong winds sweep through the region.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cut power to about 240,000 customers late Wednesday night to prevent wildfires amid dry, windy weather and extreme fire danger. The new power cuts turned off the lights in parts of the San Francisco Bay area, but not in the city itself.

Another 500,000 customers had their electricity cut off earlier by the utility to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and starting wildfires amid heavy winds and extreme fire danger. Experts say there are generally 2.5 people for each electrical customer.

Forecasters say wind gusts early Thursday on some San Francisco Bay Area hills reached speeds of 70 mph (110 kph). There was an overnight fire in the suburban town of Moraga that sent residents fleeing from their homes until the fire was out.


This item corrects the number of additional PG&E customers who lost power Wednesday night to about 240,000, not 140,000.


12 a.m.

Millions of Californians are playing a waiting game with the winds after Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and sparking wildfires.

PG&E intentionally blacked out about 730,000 homes and businesses Wednesday in northern and central California because of predicted dry, gusty winds. The outages came in two phases, with the San Francisco Bay Area hit late Wednesday night.

There's no word on how long the outage will last, although PG&E says it could be days because power lines must be inspected and declared safe after the winds subside.

In the south, Santa Ana winds are expected to hit the region Thursday. Southern California Edison warns that it might cut power to nearly 174,000 customers in nine counties.

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