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KPBS Evening Edition

SDG&E Warns Backcountry Of Possible Power Outages As Wildfire Rages

Power lines silhouetted against a setting sun turned blood-red because of the smoke from Valley Fire in this photo taken Sept. 6, 2020.
Alexander Nguyen
Power lines silhouetted against a setting sun turned blood-red because of the smoke from Valley Fire in this photo taken Sept. 6, 2020.

As Santa Ana winds continued to stoke a wildfire that has blackened thousands of acres in rural communities near Alpine, San Diego Gas & Electric notified back-country residents Tuesday that it may have to turn off their power intermittently over the next several days to reduce wildfire risk.

The utility has notified about 16,700 customers in areas surrounding the out-of-control blaze in Japatul Valley to be prepared for electrical- service shutoffs through Thursday.

Potentially affected communities include parts of Alpine, Barrett Lake, Buckman Springs, Campo, Dehesa, Dulzura, Jamul, Lyons Valley, Morena Village, Potrero and Rancho Palo Verde.

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A National Weather Service "red-flag" wildfire warning is slated to be in effect in the county through 8 p.m. Wednesday. The alert signifies a likelihood of critical combustion hazards that can lead to "extreme fire behavior."

Dry, whipping winds out of the east have made efforts to control the out-of-control East County blaze, dubbed the Valley Fire, particularly challenging. By early Tuesday afternoon, the fire had scorched an estimated 17,345 acres and destroyed at least 11 residences and 25 outbuildings, and was only 3% contained, according to Cal Fire.

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