Thousands Without Power on July 4th in California as Wildfire Risk Grows

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jul 04, 2024

More than 2,200 California residents have had their power temporarily shut off as the risk of wildfire grows in the northern part of the state.

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was forced to take extreme measures to control the spread of fire in the area and reduce the risk of electrical-related disasters as the fire sweeps through the area.

Excessive Heat in the State

Early on Wednesday, more than half of the state was under advisory for excessive heat. Many areas were also at high risk for wildfires starting or spreading.

Several small birds sit on palm trees with a light orange glow in the background

Source: Raimond Klavins/Unsplash

Warnings were issued to alert residents of wildfires as a high threat due to the extreme weather. As well, strong winds and low levels of humidity exacerbated the problem.

Massive Fires in Northern California

The high temperatures come as the state is experiencing several massive wildfires. Last month, a large blaze grew to 13,000 acres, causing thousands of people to evacuate.

A photograph of wildfires in a forest on a mountain

Source: Freepik

Now, more than 3,000 acres are burning in northern California, threatening to evacuate thousands from their homes on Independence Day.

Public Safety Turning Power Off

Out of extreme caution, state officials implemented a Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Large power lines standing in three rows against a red sunset

Source: Matthew Henry/Unsplash

The following counties have been affected by the emergency power shut-off: Butte, Colusa, Glenn Lake, Napa, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama and Yolo.

Shutting Power Off Could Mitigate Wildfires

Although it might seem counterintuitive, turning the power off in residential areas can actually prevent more wildfires from erupting.

A dramatic night scene showing a wildfire engulfing a mountain, with flames and smoke visible against the dark sky, reflecting a severe and urgent environmental disaster

Source: Mike Newbry/Unsplash

The webpage about PSPS says that: “Severe weather, such as high winds, can cause trees or debris to damage equipment. If there is dry vegetation, this could lead to a wildfire. That’s why we may need to turn power off to keep you safe. This temporary outage is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).”

Current Conditions Can Cause Fires To Spread Quickly

Environmental factors can contribute to worsening fires. Low humidity, high winds, dry material on the ground and plants growing near power lines can all exacerbate fire conditions.

A single truck drives down a road with a wildfire and black smoke rages in a green forest

Source: Marcus Kauffman/Unsplash

Experts at the National Weather Service note that these conditions can cause ground crews more difficulty when fighting wildfires near homes. Adding live electricity wires to the equation can make things even worse.


The Power Will Stay Off For the Fourth of July

Unfortunately, many residents will be forced to go without power for the Fourth of July celebrations.

A person holds a sparkler and a small American flag against a black background

Source: Stehpanie McCabe/Unsplash

While residents in the area have not evacuated yet, they can most likely go about their normal day; however, they are inconvenienced by being unable to use power to cool their homes or cook for the celebration.


Animals in California Making Fire Conditions Worse

Earlier last month, California officials were blasted by residents on Catalina Island who dislike the plan to eradicate invasive deer on the island.

A view of the lush green plants on Catalina Island with a view of the blue ocean in the background

Source: @mschoee/X

However, the deer have been eating away at moist plants and vegetation, leaving dry and brittle conditions ripe for a wildfire disaster. Now that the wildfire season is worsening in the state, officials will need to take similar measures in other areas to lower fire risk.


Thousands Without Power

PG&E currently services more than 5.5 million customers around the state. As of Wednesday morning, more than 9,000 customers were without power.

Two men wearing hard hats and PPE sit in the bucket of a lift while working on large power lines set against a blue sky

Source: American Public Power Association/Unsplash

Although many of the outages were not planned by PSPS, as many as 12,000 people could be without power in the coming days.


Weather Conditions May Worsen

Throughout Thursday and over the weekend, temperatures are expected to stay in the high 90s while wind may pick up and worsen the situation.

Two firefighters in a dry field while a wildfire rages behind them

Source: Freepik

Residents in Northern California should stay on alert and read the daily updates on evacuation measures in their area.


The Heat May Be Dangerous Without Power

Unfortunately, many residents could be put at risk without electricity.

A white air conditioner next to the white exterior of a house

Source: Zulki Jrzt/Unsplash

Outside of foregoing a fun Fourth of July celebration, many could be left in a dire situation. Air conditioning and fans are often necessary for Californians to stay cool and safe.


PG&E Trying To Help Residents Stay Cool

More details are available on the PG&E website for those homes affected. However, they hope to have the power turned back on soon.

A small American flag stuck into grass with the sun setting in the background

Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

In a press release, PG&E said, “We understand that being without power is difficult for our customers — especially in areas impacted by the heat wave. Numerous Community Resource Centers (CRC) will be available within the affected counties.” Hopefully, the delay can be resolved quickly so Californians can return to their lives and salvage their celebrations for Independence Day.