Left Menu
Development News Edition

California power outages ease, first linked death reported

PTI | Sanfrancisco | Updated: 12-10-2019 06:42 IST | Created: 12-10-2019 06:42 IST
California power outages ease, first linked death reported

San Francisco, Oct 12 (AP) The lights were back on Friday for many of the nearly 2 million Northern California residents who lost electricity when the state's largest utility switched it off this week in an effort to prevent wildfires, as the first death linked to the outages was reported — a man who relied on oxygen. The threat of widespread outages loomed in Southern California after the winds moved to the Los Angeles area, where a wildfire fueled by strong Santa Ana winds prompted officials to order the evacuation of 100,000 people from their homes in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.

In that fire, one man went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. restored power in Northern California after workers inspected power lines to make sure it was safe to do so. The winds had increased the possibility of transmission lines toppling to the ground and starting wildfires.

The utility said 543,000 Northern California businesses and residences got their power back — but that nearly 195,000 customers were still in the dark. More than half of those who lost power in the San Francisco Bay Area had it again on Friday. The city itself was not subject to the preventive outages. Experts have said there are between two and three people for every electrical customer.

El Dorado County officials on Friday said a man dependent on oxygen died about 12 minutes after PG&E cut off power this week. Marie Aldea of Pollock Pines said her 67-year-old father Robert Mardis Sr. was asleep when the electricity went out around 3.30 am Wednesday and likely couldn't wake up in time to get his back up machine, which ran on battery. "We were all asleep, we heard my mom scream. She was crying," she told KTXL-TV in Sacramento .

"My dad went down in her arms, he was going for this oxygen machine." Aldea said her father's health was poor, but she doesn't understand why the utility turned off the power. "No winds at all. And because of that, my father is gone," she said.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said the utility has not been able to confirm the report. "It's devastating beyond words," said Gov. Gavin Newsom. "Losing a family member is horrific and to the extent this was the reason why I hope that is investigated and I hope those responsible are held to account." The death was first reported by the Mountain Democrat in Placerville.

Some people in the largely rural Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties and in Northern California's wine country counties were in their third day without electricity. Butte County is where a fire started by PG&E equipment last year decimated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. In Napa and Sonoma counties north of San Francisco, the outages began on the two-year anniversary of deadly wildfires that killed 44 and destroyed thousands of homes.

PG&E said in a statement that employees located 11 spots where parts of its systems were damaged during the strong winds, but Smith said he could not provide damage details. That information will be in a state-mandated report the utility must give regulators within 10 business days after the outage ends. PG&E faced hostility and second-guessing over the shut-offs, which prompted runs on supplies like coolers and generators and forced institutions to shut down.

Ryan Fisher, a partner in consumer goods and retail practice at global consultancy AT Kearney estimated USD 100 million in USD 200 million in fresh food was likely lost because of the outages along with USD 30 million a day in consumer spending. PG&E cast the blackouts as a matter of public safety to prevent the kind of blazes that have killed scores of people over the past couple of years, destroyed thousands of homes, and ran up tens of billions of dollars in claims that drove the company into bankruptcy.

The utility suggested it was already seeing the wisdom of its decision borne out as gusts topping 77 mph (122 kph) raked some hilltops where wildfire risk was extremely high. "We have found multiple cases of damage or hazards" caused by heavy winds, including fallen branches into overhead lines, said Sumeet Singh, a vice president for the utility.

Utility CEO Bill Johnson promised if future wind events require similar shut-offs, the utility will "do better" at communicating with customers. It's unacceptable that its website crashed, maps were inconsistent and call centers were overloaded, Johnson said. "We were not adequately prepared," he said. (AP)

RDK RDK


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Videos

Latest News

Reuters People News Summary

Following is a summary of current people news briefs. Teenage British activist stages climate protest on Arctic ice floeLike many of her generation, Mya-Rose Craig feels strongly that adults have failed to take the urgent action needed to t...

Reuters Entertainment News Summary

Following is a summary of current entertainment news briefs. South Korean boyband BTS cancels October concert over coronavirusK-pop boyband BTS cancelled on Friday a concert set for October in the South Korean capital of Seoul as authoritie...

Melbourne eases lockdown, reopens schools, work

Australias second-largest city, Melbourne, has further eased lockdown restrictions imposed after a surge in coronavirus cases, allowing most children to return to school from next month and sending more than 125,000 people back to work. Mel...

Former Union minister Jaswant Singh dies, PM pays tribute

Former Union minister Jaswant Singh, a close associate of ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, died here on Sunday following a long spell of illness. He was 82. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders paid rich tributes to...

Give Feedback