Helicopters pull more people from burning forest; over 170K customers affected by power shut-offs
SHAVER LAKE, Calif. — Helicopters flew through dense smoke Tuesday to rescue scores more people from wildfires as wind-fanned flames kept chewing through bone-dry California after a scorching Labor Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200.
Rescue choppers pulled another 164 people from the Sierra National Forest through the morning and were working to rescue 17 others, said Gov. Gavin Newsom, who described pilots wearing night-vision goggles to find a place to land.
“It’s where training meets the moment, but it always takes the courage, the conviction and the grit of real people doing real work,” Newsom said.
California has already set a record with nearly 2.3 million acres burned this year, and the worst part of the wildfire season is just beginning.
“This is historic,“ Newsom said in a briefing from Sacramento.
The previous acreage record was set just two years ago and included the deadliest wildfire in state history, which swept through the community of Paradise and killed 85 people.
That 2018 blaze was started by power lines amid strong winds and tinder-dry conditions. Liability from billions of dollars in claims from that and other fires forced the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to seek bankruptcy protection. To guard against new disasters, the company last year began preemptive power shutoffs when fire conditions are exceptionally dangerous.
That’s the situation now in Northern California, where high and dry winds are expected until today. PG&E said it has learned from past problems and will seek this year to make the outages “smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers.”
Over the weekend, the company cut power to 172,000 customers — including those in Nevada County — to try to prevent more blazes.
More than 14,000 firefighters are battling more than two dozen fires around the state. Two of the three largest blazes in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User