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Extreme Fire Danger: Red Flag Warning Issued, and Anticipated PG&E Power Shutoff From Saturday Evening to Monday morning in Oakland

Date Posted: October 26th, 2019 @ 12:57 PM
Last Updated: October 26th, 2019 @ 12:58 PM

Oakland, CA –PG&E has announced that due to the fire risk posed by extreme weather conditions in the forecast, it is will proactively turn off power and implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) across more than 30 Northern California counties, including Oakland and parts of Alameda County.

The anticipated power shutoff will begin as early as 5 pm today.

“We are anticipating historically strong winds, the strongest we’ve seen in years,” said Oakland Fire Chief Darin White. “Although the most severe local threat is in the East Bay hills, a rapidly spreading wildfire could have widespread impact across the city. The Fire Department is urging residents, visitors, and businesses to be prepared and to use extreme caution over the next few days.”

The decision to turn off power, and the speed at which it is restored, is planned and managed solely by PG&E. The City of Oakland is ready to respond to high fire danger and the effects of the power shutoff. PG&E began to send out public notifications this week to their opt-in customers and they are providing information on their website and through media releases at pge.com.

EBMUD has requested that all businesses and residents reduce water usage as much as possible during power shutdowns. They do not have the capability of maintaining levels in all of the reservoirs while power is out.

PG&E estimates that 23,000 residential and business customers in Oakland could be impacted, potentially affecting nearly 70,000 people. Across Northern California, PG&E estimates 830,000 customers to be affected, or nearly 2.4 million people.

Although the main period of risk is Saturday night through early Monday morning, because of the widespread nature of the shutoff and the potential damage to the system from high winds, the power shutoff could last several days. PG&E will restore power once it has inspected the lines for safety and made any necessary repairs, which could account for the delay in re-energizing the lines.

While customers in high fire-threat areas like the East Bay Hills are more likely to be affected, any of PG&E’s more than 5 million electric customers could have their power shut off. This is because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.

Today at 3pm, the City of Oakland will activate its Emergency Operations Center to optimize coordination of City operations and resources, and staff will be monitoring the weather and related impacts closely.

PG&E to Open Community Resource Centers

PG&E have opened Community Resource Centers in the counties being affected by the shutdown. The centers will remain open during daylight hours only. Restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 will be available at the facilities.

The resource center for Alameda County is at Merritt College in Oakland, located at 12500 Campus Dr., Oakland, CA 94619.

Park Closures

Joaquin Miller Park is closed to the public on Red Flag days. Signs will be posted at all park entrances and trails regarding the closure.

Key Phone Numbers for Assistance

· Only call 911 for life-threatening situations requiring immediate attention

· Call 311 for City maintenance issues such as a fallen tree or blocked street

· Call 211 for critical information regarding emergency shelters, disaster relief services, assistance with temporary housing, and other basic social needs.

City of Oakland Preparations

In addition to the Oakland Fire Department’s normal operations, firefighters will conduct roving fire patrols in the Oakland Hills. These resources will augment the department’s normal hill company patrols that are out during high fire danger. Additionally, the State of California Office of Emergency Services is pre-positioning fire suppression resources in Oakland and the region.

In the event of a PG&E power shutoff, the Oakland Police Department will deploy additional neighborhood patrols and provide traffic safety support at key intersections where signals are out.

Since this is a regional event, the City team is coordinating with the Alameda County Office of Emergency Services, neighboring cities, the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to ensure fluid communication and coordinated response. The affected cities and counties are receiving regular updates from PG&E regarding their plans to de-energize the electrical system and restore power once the severe weather conditions subside.

Updated Forecast: Red Flag Warning & Wind Advisory

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the East Bay hills from 8 pm Saturday through 11 am Monday. Northerly winds will increase tonight and continue to be strong and gusty through Monday morning. Winds of up to 45 to 50 mph are likely. Locally higher gusts of 65 mph are possible on the highest ridges and peaks. These strong winds will create critical fire weather conditions and the potential for downed trees and power lines.

The City of Oakland will continue to update the public through its website (link) as this situation develops.

Below are preparation tips we recommend residents use to prepare. For more, please visit the Ready for Wildfire page on the Cal Fire website:

  • Confirm or update your contact information with PG&E. PG&E will send notifications to the contacts on file in advance of a shutoff, when possible.
  • Create a safety plan for all members of your family, including pets. A Public Safety Power Shutoff can happen at any time of day or night, due to changing weather conditions.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit. Include enough water, non-perishable food, toiletries, and medicine to last your household—including pets—for one week. Be sure to refresh your kit once a year.
  • Determine if your landline will work during an outage. Keep a mobile phone as backup.
  • Keep mobile phones and other devices charged.
  • Keep your gas tank full and cash on hand; during power shutoffs, gas pumps and ATMs won’t work.
  • If you have a generator, make sure it's ready to operate safely.
  • Have flashlights available for your household. Avoid using candles.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • For individuals dependent on electricity for a medical device, please review the checklist provided by the Pacific ADA Center and by PG&E at prepareforpowerdown.com.
  • If you have a driveway, use it. Keep narrow roads clear for emergency vehicles and evacuations.
  • Create a plan– Develop an evacuation plan and identify a safe meeting place away from the home in the event you become separated. Clearly identify safe routes out of the home in case the primary exit is unavailable.

Media Contact

Michael Hunt 510-289-9822
Sean Maher (415) 730-1366