Over 11,000 Affected by Power Outages Across SoCal Amid Wildfires Burning Over 100 Square Miles

Over 13,000 have been affected by power outages triggered by a series of wildfires that have burned over 100 square miles across Ventura and Los Angeles Counties as of Wednesday afternoon, according to estimates from county officials and Southern California Edison.

A woman involved in a traffic accident waits to get towed beside a wall of flames on the 101 Freeway during the Thomas Fire near Ventura on Dec. 6, 2017. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman involved in a traffic accident waits to get towed beside a wall of flames on the 101 Freeway during the Thomas Fire near Ventura on Dec. 6, 2017. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In total, about 11,000 SoCal Edison customers have been impacted by power outages — with 8,400 of these people being residents in Ventura County and nearby areas where a state of emergency has been declared. That area has seen the most massive blaze in the past few days. SoCal Edison reports this number also includes areas of Santa Clarita, Sylmar and San Bernardino.

Meanwhile, the L.A. County Department of Water and Power reports 2,900 in the city of L.A. were impacted by power outages triggered by the Creek Fire that forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 and the Skirball Fire that destroyed at least four homes in the Bel-Air area.

With fires being largely swept by strong Santa Ana winds reaching speeds of up to 80 mph in some areas, SoCal Edison said in a Wednesday morning advisory that current numbers “could change dramatically” depending on weather conditions in the coming days.

“Power outages and intermittent service interruptions will continue for customers as the fires burn and impact our facilities,” Paul Grigaux, incident commander and SCE’s vice president of Transmission, Substations and Operations, said in a statement.

“Due to the fires, the system could face additional strain and we are asking customers to conserve energy,” he said.

The outages were sparked by at least four wildfires that have burned through tens of thousands of acres across San Bernardino, L.A. and Ventura counties. The Thomas Fire in the Ventura County area alone has grown to over 100 square miles and was still 0 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

Cities in the county saw dark streets and hours-long outages as the rapidly spreading Thomas Fire first took hold Monday evening.

In Oxnard, city officials on Tuesday warned of at least nine intersections where stoplights were completely out — including one in a heavily congested part of town where five different lanes meet.

Due to the loss of critical transmission lines in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas, the California Independent System Operator has declared a local transmission emergency for those areas, according to SoCal Edison.

SoCal Edison said repairs to damaged electrical systems will take place once it’s deemed safe enough by fire officials and it is also devoting more resources to recovering power lines in those areas.

Some safety tips offered by the agency to those affected by the outages include:

• Have emergency supplies such as a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and fresh batteries. SoCal Edison advises against using candles due to fire hazards.

• If you’re in a vehicle that has a fallen power line on it, stay in vehicle until help arrives. If you must leave, then try exiting away from the power lines and jump out of the vehicle landing with both feet on the floor. “You must not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time,” SoCal Edison advises. “Then proceed away from the vehicle by shuffling and not picking up your feet until you are several yards away.”

• Treat all intersections with stoplights that are out as four-way stops.

•  If you use a generator, place it outdoors.

Other information and safety tips can be found on the power outage page of SoCal Edison.