June 8 (UPI) -- The largest electric utility in California, Pacific Gas and Electric, said it plans to shut off power to multiple communities in the Sierra Foothills Saturday as a pre-emptive measure to avoid sparking a wildfire.
The company said some 1,600 customers in North Bay and 27,000 in the Sierra Foothills could be affected by the blackout, including Napa, Solano, Yolo, Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties. PG&E shut off power for some communities earlier Saturday, but more blackouts were expected starting at 9 p.m. until the end of the peak period of fire risk at noon Sunday.
PG&E said it was monitoring weather conditions in the region through its Wildfire Safety Operations Center.
"The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility," said Michael Lewis, vice president of electric operations. "We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and our decision tonight to turn off power is to protect our communities experiencing extreme fire danger.
In May, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said PG&E was to blame for last year's Camp Fire, the most deadly and destructive fire in state history. The wildfire ignited in Butte County and killed 85 people, burned 153,336 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 structures.
Cal Fire said electrical transmission lines in the Pulga area caused the blaze.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning through much of the Central Valley area, including Sacramento and Stockton and as far north as Redding.