Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Pacific Gas & Electric said that it will begin restoring power to more than 270,000 customers in Northern California on Thursday night.
The utility announced that more than 270,700 customers in several counties had been notified that safety inspections can begin in their area to determine whether power can be restored.
About 126,000 customers had their power restored Thursday morning and 600,000 remained without power.
The utility began systematically cutting power to portions of dozens of counties on Wednesday, anticipating strong winds that can breach power lines and spark fires. Thursday, the blackouts were expected to continue until the wind risk subsides.
PG&E, the state's largest utility, initially said up to 900,000 homes and businesses would be impacted by the three-phase plan. Thursday, it said that figure could grow to exceed 1 million, which would include about 3 million residents statewide.
Depending on the weather, the outages in some areas could last into this weekend.
Earlier Thursday, a short-lived vegetation fire in Southern California damaged two homes amid the blackouts.
The blaze lasted about 2 hours in a neighborhood in Fontana, just east of Los Angeles, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said. One home sustained major damage and another had exterior damage.
The fire also damaged three passenger vehicles, two recreational vehicles and multiple backyards. Fire officials said medics treated one civilian on the scene.
Fire crews fully contained the blaze and are investigating the cause.
The fire came after Pacific Gas & Electric shut off electricity to more than a million homes and businesses throughout the state.
The threat of wildfire in California is high, and there were several wildfires burning across the northern part of the state. The largest, the Briceburg Fire, was 25 percent contained and burned 4,900 acres as of Thursday afternoon. It prompted mandatory evacuations in Mariposa County since Sunday.
"We have a lot of unburned fuel on the ground from the rains last winter and spring ... and with the high winds, that's the big problem tonight, we could very easily get into a situation where a wildfire got away from us, that's the last thing we want to happen," Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Hill said.
PG&E agreed last month to pay an $11 billion settlement over its role in contributing to wildland fires in California in 2017 and 2018 -- including the Camp Fire in Butte County, the largest in California history, which killed more than 80 people last fall. PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January after learning it could be liable for up to $30 billion in wildfire claims.