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SDG&E Warns East County To Prepare For Power Shutoffs In Santa Ana Winds

Power lines in Spring Valley are shown in this file photo taken Nov. 15, 2020.
KPBS Staff
Power lines in Spring Valley are shown in this file photo taken Nov. 15, 2020.

Due to forecasted Santa Ana winds and a Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service, San Diego Gas & Electric on Wednesday notified approximately 2,700 customers in East San Diego County it may have to turn off power in order to reduce wildfire risk beginning early Friday morning.

Affected communities include Alpine, Campo Reservation, Crestwood, Descanso, Julian, La Posta Reservation, Manzanita Reservation, Pala, Santa Ysabel, Santa Ysabel Reservation, Valley Center and Viejas Reservation.

"The last thing we want to be telling any of our customers right now is that we may have to shut off power given the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and the ongoing COVID pandemic," said Scorr Crider, SDG&E's chief customer officer.

"Public Safety Power Shutoffs are a last resort to prevent wildfires, and our employees are dedicated to doing everything we can to minimize impacts should it come to that. We're hoping Mother Nature cooperates, but in an abundance of caution we have reached out to our customers so they can be prepared."

Several hundred SDG&E linemen, troubleshooters and support personnel will be working Thanksgiving Day and through the holiday weekend to ensure power can be restored as quickly and safely as possible should safety power shutoffs occur.

The Red Flag Warning will be in effect 9 p.m. Thursday through 9 a.m. Saturday for San Diego County inland valleys and mountains. Moderate strength Santa Ana winds are expected in typically wind prone, isolated pockets of the backcountry. The strongest winds are forecasted to arrive Friday, and the weather will likely remain breezy through Saturday.

In preparation, SDG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center to monitor conditions 24/7 and has organized personnel and pre-staged materials and equipment for response.

A list of areas at risk of shutoffs, along with information on Community Resource Centers that may be available in affected areas, can be found at sdge.com/ready.

The utility will continue to provide customers with updates. Customers who are notified should be prepared to make alternative arrangements for holiday celebrations and have emergency resources at hand to keep their family, pets and livestock safe.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday arrives, SDG&E has offered a few tips to keep food from spoiling in case of a shutoff:

— Ahead of time, purchase or make ice cubes, and freeze gel packs. Check out local sources for dry ice and block ice, in case it should be needed;

— Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry not needed immediately;

— Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold;

— Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible because a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened, and a full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed;

— If at any point, food was above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, or one hour if temperatures were above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, discard it;

— Once power is restored, check the appliance thermometer, and if the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen; and

— When the power comes back on, check the temperature in the refrigerator or of the food and discard any perishable food that has been at refrigerator temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or more. Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below should be safe but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.