High fire danger triggers PG&E power shutoffs in Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties

ByAmy Hollyfield and Liz Kreutz KGO logo
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
High fire danger triggers power shutoffs in North Bay
PG&E shut off power overnight to 23,000 customers in Sonoma, Napa counties because of dry and windy conditions.

PG&E activated its Public Safety Power Shutoffs around the state of California Monday night and Tuesday morning out of fear that the weather could cause wildfires. That included about 17,000 customers in Sonoma County and about 5,000 in Napa County.

"We are without power. It went out this morning. I am not sure what time, I was asleep. We have a generator," said Angwin Resident Jeanette Scherencel.

She was getting gas Tuesday morning at the Chevron on Howell Mountain Road, which also was being powered by a generator.

LIST: Bay Area counties impacted by PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoffs

The Director of Operations for Howell Mountain Enterprises in Angwin says generators are the new normal for residents and businesses.

"We're prepared. We have our own power. We have a generator that operates the market as well as the hardware store and we have a portable generator that keeps the Chevron going," Kelly Morris said.

Morris said the residents who don't have generators seem to want them.

WATCH: High fire danger triggers power shutoffs in North Bay

PG&E shut off power overnight to 23,000 customers in Sonoma, Napa counties because of dry and windy conditions.

"In our ACE hardware store, we try to keep generators there but they sell out very quickly. We will probably be getting more this week because everytime we get them in, people buy them," Morris said.

But generators were not meant to power distance learning. That's why Jewel Aaen was standing in the parking lot in front of the hardware store Tuesday morning with her three kids in the car, all with laptops and headphones.

"I came here to the parking lot hoping to get internet service from the laundry mat. They're closed, but I know the college has Wifi service. We are signing on as a guest getting them going on their chrome books in the car," Aaen said.

ACCUWEATHER FORECAST: Heat and fire danger remain high

She has a generator at home but says it is only powerful enough for a few appliances. Her power went out Tuesday morning, right when distance learning classes were starting.

"We spent 20 minutes running from house to house this morning 'do you have internet? Can we get on?' It all shut off at 9:00," Aaen said.

So she packed up her boys and drove around until she could find them an internet connection.

"I don't know what else to do. I keep praying 'let the schools open up.' I never wanted to be a teacher," she said.

WATCH: PG&E officials provide details on the power shutoff

Amid the extreme heat, PG&E is warning customers of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) that could impact 172,000 customers in 22 California counties, including some in the Bay Area.

Despite the issues created by a power outage, many residents appreciate the pre-caution.

"I'm glad they turned it off. With the winds, it is kind of scary. It is windy, it's smoky. We just went through fires, so it is unnerving," Scherencel said.

PG&E says once conditions have improved, they will inspect the lines for any damage. Officials say that could take up to 12 hours. Once that is completed, they will start turning the power back on.