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Sunday October 20th, 2019 12:36PM

The Latest: Power outages begin in California

By The Associated Press
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on power outages in California (all times local):

6:30 a.m.

Pacific Gas and Electric has shut off power to more than half a million customers in Northern California in the biggest planned shut off in the state's history.

The utility said Wednesday it will gradually turn off electricity to nearly 800,000 customers to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires during hot, windy weather.

It says a second group of about 234,000 customers will lose power starting at noon.

The utility says it's considering turning off power to another 42,000 customers in areas it serves near Southern California. It says it will determine a time and the specific locations later Wednesday.

___

12:00 a.m.

Millions of people in northern and central California are facing days without power as Pacific Gas & Electric creates the largest preventive blackout in state history.

The utility says it will start to shut down power at midnight Wednesday to customers to reduce the chance of fierce winds knocking trees into power lines or downing equipment and sparking wildfires.

People preparing for the outages emptied shelves of bottled water and batteries, and there were lines at gas pumps.

PG&E planned to shut off power to 800,000 home and businesses in 34 counties through Thursday. But the utility warned it could take up to five days to restore power because the lines must be inspected to make sure they're safe.

To the south, Southern California Edison said more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts as early as Thursday as Santa Ana winds loomed.

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