Fire risk high, sparking potential PG&E shutoffs

With high winds, low humidity, and lots of untended brush across the Bay Area after the rainy winter and spring, the potential for fires is extremely high over the next few days.

That concern has pushed Pacific Gas & Electric officials to warn customers that power lines might be shut off in many parts of the region in coming days.

PG&E has noted that not all customers will lose power, and shut offs will be based on weather and safety factors. Hilly areas, particularly the Coastal Range on the West Valley border and the Diablo Range hills east and northeast of San Jose are most at risk of fires and of power shut offs.

In total, approximately 38,000 customers in Santa Clara County could be affected.

Maps from PG&E show portions of Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale are most likely to see temporary power cuts. For tips on preparing for and reacting to a power outage, click here.

Elected officials had varying information on how long shut offs might last, with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf noting up to five days, with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo saying it could be as long as a week. Both were clear at those timelines being the worst-case scenarios. Some schools were preparing to shutter in the event of power outages.

Impacted customers should get notified in advance by PG&E, likely sometime Tuesday, in advance of a planned outage. PG&E launched its Public Safety Power Shutoff program after devastating fires in 2017 and 2018 were sparked by transmission lines and spread by similarly dry, windy weather.