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Live updates: PG&E power outage in California



  Rick Shaw the bartender uses light from a lantern during a planned power outage.
Rick Shaw bartender uses light from a lantern during a planned power outage. BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL / AFP via Getty Images

California's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) cut power to parts of 22 counties in northern California on Wednesday. About 500,000 customers have been affected by the power outage and many schools have canceled classes.

Here's why: PG&E says the shutdowns are to avoid creating wildlife. High winds, such as those currently sweeping across Northern California, increase the risk of wildfires.

On Wednesday, the vice president of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program said: "We took this step to ensure safety as a last resort, and we are committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic incidents in the fire."

The wind is expected to fall Friday. Then PG&E crews will investigate their damage systems and begin to restore power to customers who remain in the dark

Certain contexts: PG&E has agreed to pay billions of dollars in damages for its role in a series of disastrous California wildfires – including Camp Fire 2018, the deadliest fire in California history.

Studies have linked climate change to the increase in the size of California's destructive fires. Since the early 1970s, forest fires in California have increased in size by eight times and the annual burned area has grown by nearly 500%, a study found.


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