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Our Future After The Fire, Power shutoffs: the new normal?

Action News Now investigates whether PG&E will mandate blackouts during Red Flag Warnings for the foreseeable future.

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 9:47 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 9:48 AM

PARADISE, Calif. - "My husband saved the business by putting the flames out himself. But we lost our home, 15 of our classic cars. So we felt the hurt," said Linda Lyons, co-owner of Lyon's Express Oil & Lube.

The Camp Fire devastated the town of Paradise.

The rubble, left in eerie silence.

Then, hope: Lyons Oil & Lube flicked on the "Open" sign, signaling hundreds of businesses to follow in it's footsteps.

"We're wanting to stay positive, as our customers come in they see a familiar face," Linda said.

Nearly a year later, a major wind storm triggered PG&E to cut power to nearly 800,000 customers across the state.

"It feels like being thrown another block to jump over, people are losing their food, their livelihood, can't get to work, can't get gas to put into their generators," Linda said.

It's too soon to tell the economic impacts of the days-long shutoff. But small businesses already feel the sting.

"This is a domino effect - one day you can absorb, but the second day?" Linda said.

The Public Safety Power Shutoff is just part of PG&E's state-mandated wildfire mitigation plan, along with it's new fire-spotting cameras and satellite, vegetation management, and hardening their equipment.

"Having that tool in your tool-box to keep communities safe is something we have to consider," said PG&E Spokesperson Denny Boyle.

I asked Cal Fire if they think the shutoff was necessary.

"I don't know what conversations took place far above the county level, but again, that's not really our concern, with our people, our boots on the ground, our concern is emergency response," said Cal Fire Butte County's Rick Carhart.

"Is this the right thing, did PG&E make the right choice?" I asked Paradise business owner Paul Lyons.

"There's nothing really left to burn much. I mean even if there is a high wind. After the horse is out, you close the gate, it's too late, the horse is already dead," said Co-owner of Lyon’s Express, Paul Lyons.

Others disagree.

"I do think it's the new normal, and people have to realize they just have to be prepared", said another Camp Fire survivor.

"We just accept this as the new normal? I asked Linda Lyons.

"No, this is not the new normal and we should not accept this," said Linda.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E customers should be "outraged" and "infuriated" about the shutoffs.

“It was unnecessary. They're in bankruptcy because of their terrible management going back decades. They've created these conditions, it was unnecessary. We're doing everything in our power, my Gosh, to help them help themselves," said Governor Newsom on Wednesday.

He called on PG&E to upgrade it's out-of-date system.

Like using underground power lines as they rebuild Paradise, making it harder for them to start a wildfire.

PG&E says it could take as long as 5 years to get these power lines under the ground. So for now, anyone rebuilding has to install a temporary power pole.

Back to the blackouts.

Is this our new normal? Will we still see them every time there's a Red Flag Warning? I asked PG&E if there was an end in sight to these power shutoffs.

"Well, not yet, I would say," said Doyle.

"We can pinch hit for a couple of days but any length of time? It's hard," Linda said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 252895

Reported Deaths: 6334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078263457
Riverside19450479
Orange16191363
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6556140
Fresno585177
Kern513081
Santa Clara5077160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento400469
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa356481
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Kings260032
Stanislaus253144
Monterey191515
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer82811
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo61325
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4553
Napa3764
San Benito2652
Sutter2433
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1484
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake870
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Oroville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Paradise
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Chester
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 41°
Red Bluff
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Willows
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Today was hot and tomorrow will be as well. But slightly below average temperatures move in as we see a dip in the jet stream.
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