(Bloomberg) -- With strong winds raising the risk of wildfires, Edison International began cutting power to some homes and businesses in Los Angeles, blacking out Thanksgiving celebrations already overshadowed by the state’s worsening coronavirus surge.
The power cuts began Thursday morning and were expected to affect more than 85,000 customers, or about a quarter-million people across six counties. At 9 a.m. local time, about 200 customers were affected.
The shutoffs com as a Santa Ana wind storm rakes the region with gusts forecast to reach 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour. California utilities have taken to cutting electricity service during high winds after their power lines sparked a series of deadly wildfires.
The outages could spread as the wind storm moves south across the state. Sempra Energy’s San Diego-area utility warned it was considering shutting off power to 2,700 homes and businesses, or about 8,000 people, starting early Friday.
The outages strike at a difficult time. California is enduring its worst wave yet of coronavirus infections, with more than 18,000 new cases and 106 new deaths reported on Wednesday alone. State officials have begged residents to cancel large family gatherings for Thanksgiving and stay at home.
At the same time, almost all of California remains either abnormally dry or in drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor website. Winter rains have begun in Northern California but have barely touched the south, leaving grass, shrubs and trees vulnerable to wildfires. The state’s record-breaking fire season has already scorched 4.2 million acres and killed 31 people this year. Some of the deadliest blazes in California history have been sparked by power lines falling or tangling with tree branches during wind storms.
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