Hundreds of thousands of California homes and businesses started to lose power Wednesday as part of an unprecedented effort by PG&E to avert starting a wildfire.
That's according to the utility company, which said electricity could be off for up to several days amid windy and dry weather, the same conditions that contributed to last year's Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) MIKE MOHLER DEPUTY DIRECTOR CAL FIRE SAYING: "The fire conditions we're going to see over the next 2 days maybe even longer are the most extreme fire conditions we've seen in 2019." PG&E said it would eventually cut off power to 800,000 customers across northern and central California as it seeks to protect areas at risk.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) PG&E SPOKESPERSON TAMAR SARKISSIAN SAYING: "We understand how important electricity is but we also want to make sure our customers and communities are safe." Thirty-four counties across California will be affected - that's more than half of all the counties in the state, in what marks the largest precautionary outage the utility has ever undertaken, showing it's taking no chances.
As it faces tens of billions of dollars in liabilities after an investigation determined its power lines caused the November 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes.