Almost 50,000 Southern California homes and businesses remain in the dark on Black Friday after utilities cut power during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday to avert wildfires.
Edison International’s Southern California Edison had halted electricity to more than 42,000 customers as of 8:21 a.m. local time, and warned on its website that another 128,000 may lose power.
Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric switched off more than 4,400 customers.
Utilities started cutting power on Wednesday to prevent live wires from triggering fires as high winds sweep through the drought-scorched region.
“Today might be the last of the worst days” though some gusts may persist into Saturday, Brandon Fox, a meteorologist with Maxar Technologies, said in a phone interview.
More than 63,000 Southern California customers were without power on Thursday, marking the second straight year that utilities in the region proactively shut off power during Thanksgiving to reduce wildfire risks.
Strong winds are expected across the region from Ventura County to the Mexico border, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Red-flag warnings, the highest level alert, were in place until 6 p.m.
Across California, 8,367 fires have charred nearly 3.1 million acres of state and federal land this year, burning more than 3,600 buildings and killing three people, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The fire risk is made worse because all of the state is currently gripped by drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
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