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Power Outages Underway As Fire Risk Increases In San Diego County

 October 24, 2019 at 10:39 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 As of early Thursday morning, Santa Ana winds started pushing through East County gust of 60 miles per hour have already been recorded and the national weather service says they could top 75 miles per hour through the mountains today with the exception of the coast, all of San Diego County is under a red flag warning until tomorrow at 5:00 PM for the very latest on conditions and preparations underway. We're joined by captain Thomas, chutes of Cal fire captain shoots. Welcome. Speaker 2: 00:28 Thanks for having me. Speaker 1: 00:29 Can you give us the latest on conditions in the East County? Speaker 2: 00:33 Definitely the window. Looking at the wind chart, things are, are definitely cranking away in the East County. I'm pushing pushing East to West, which is really what gives us our, our Santa Ana winds. Um, in some places in the inner city areas you might be kind of sheltered, but uh, don't, uh, don't let that make you complacent or let that fool you because the, the potential is definitely there. The window's still pushing very strong and uh, the East County especially is, uh, is definitely feeling it right now. Speaker 1: 01:01 I was going to ask if there are more areas that are in a more of a danger zone than others. Speaker 2: 01:07 You know, the, the queer back area has the highest Gus right now at, at 56, but really all of South County, uh, portrayal area and everything has a, it's sitting in the high forties. And so, um, we really, uh, we really have these potentials anywhere that canyons lined up. But in San Diego County that's a, that's actually a number of places that we, uh, we have a high potential. Speaker 1: 01:30 I know Cal fire has beefed up resources in preparation for the Santa Ana event. Can you tell us about the extra precautions you're taking? Speaker 2: 01:38 Sure. So we are at peak staffing for, for the summer season. So we have a, a lot of equipment that's already stacked up, um, for this time of year. On top of that. Um, we've added extra aircraft, extra fire engines, bulldozers, hand crews, um, pretty much everything under the sun. You could think of, uh, to make sure that, um, if we do have a major wildfire kickoff, that, that we're, uh, that we're ready to go. Speaker 1: 02:01 PG and E has come under heavy criticism for how they've handled so-called public safety power. Shutoffs SDG and E has already cut power to hundreds of customers with the potential of more than 40,000. That could lose power from the perspective of Cal fire. Are these power shutoffs helping? Speaker 2: 02:18 Uh, you know, it's, it's a really tough to say, and I don't have any of those statistics on that, but, um, we definitely, we definitely know that anything that could cause a spark during these conditions is something that we don't want. Um, and so we, uh, we appreciate any effort, uh, especially from the public, you know, right now the little things that you may not think of, like keeping your vehicle maintains. Uh, you know, we have fires start from vehicle fires, from Cadillac converters, um, you know, causing fires from people, dragging chains down the highway. All these things that seem little, um, can really have catastrophic, uh, affects, especially during these red red flag times. Speaker 1: 02:57 And we reported yesterday the wildfire computer system developed at UC San Diego that helps fire authorities know where a fire is headed. Can you tell us more about how helpful that system can be? Should a fire breakout? Speaker 2: 03:11 Yeah, so, uh, our, our emergency command center has access to all the, all the cameras. Um, they're, uh, stationed on peaks around San Diego County and, and really outside of CU County, but we're just focused on the ones here. We have the ability to control, to zoom in and to really, uh, help us figure out when we get calls all the time for a first smoke scene, it gives us a better idea of, okay, is this a a smoke check where we need to send a couple engine? Or is this a, is this an active fire? And we need to, uh, send all the resources that we have available. And so having that camera system to be able to check things and then watch, uh, basically real time of what a fire is doing is, is, uh, very helpful for us. Speaker 1: 03:52 And speaking of real time, are there any fires going in San Diego County right now? Speaker 2: 03:57 I see, so far so good. Although that same network of cameras has showed us that there is a fire burning in Mexico. Um, we are getting several reports on that, but it's deep enough into Mexico to where it's not a current threat for us. Um, but we are keeping an eye on that. And then obviously we know, uh, Northern California with similar conditions today has a fire that erupted a 10,000 acres over night. Um, we know that they have a similar potential that we do and so we should use that as a, as a precautionary tale that if we get a spark in, in the, the right or wrong place today, um, it can really cause us some big challenges. Speaker 1: 04:33 And with those fires that are happening like in Mexico and other places, how are we sending resources to help? Speaker 2: 04:41 Uh, we do have the ability to send resources into Mexico. The, the fire down there, um, is currently small enough to where it's, it's, uh, not a, not a major concern at this point. Um, but San Diego did San resources up to assist, uh, with the fires in Northern California and the resources we have staffed not just in Cal fire and San Diego County fire, but with our local government partners, our federal partners, we're able to send resources to these fires without causing any lack of coverage in our area. Speaker 1: 05:11 Well, it sounds like it will be a few busy days ahead for you all. Stay safe out there. Speaker 2: 05:17 Thank you very much. Speaker 1: 05:18 I've been speaking with captain Thomas, chutes of Cal fire captain shoots. Thanks again for joining us. Speaker 2: 05:24 Appreciate it. Thank you.

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Strong Santa Ana winds are raising the threat of wildfires and prompting potential power shutoffs for tens of thousands of SDG&E customers.
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