Preparedness & Recovery

Calif., Blackouts Shrink, AT&T Sends Portable Cell-Phone Transmitters Amid Fires

About 91,000 PG&E customers in the North Bay remained blacked-out Tuesday morning, down from 99,000 Monday.

by David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle / October 10, 2017
Leslie Garnica, 17, cries while recalling the fire which destroyed her family home in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. An onslaught of wildfires across a wide swath of Northern California broke out almost simultaneously then grew exponentially, swallowing up properties from wineries to trailer parks and tearing through both tiny rural towns and urban subdivisions. AP/Ben Margot

(TNS) - Pacific Gas and Electric Co. slowly chipped away at the number of North Bay customers without power Tuesday morning but still had no estimate for when service would be restored to the areas hardest hit by fire.

Indeed the utility, which has been pulling repair crews from throughout Northern and Central California to respond to the emergency, was still waiting to enter some of the areas ravaged by wildfire to evaluate the damage to its equipment. With the Wine Country fires still growing Tuesday, that could take time.

“We’re still waiting for the conditions to be safe enough to get in there and do an assessment,” said PG&E spokeswoman Andrea Menniti.

Meanwhile, AT&T reported that it was deploying portable cell phone transmitters to areas where phone service remained spotty or cut off completely. By early Tuesday afternoon, mobile transmitters were up and running in Napa and Willits, with a transmitter also being set up in Santa Rosa.

About 91,000 PG&E customers in the North Bay remained blacked-out Tuesday morning, down from 99,000 Monday evening. In the Santa Rosa area, roughly 50,000 customers were without electricity, while 25,000 customers in the Napa area were without power. More than 3,000 customers in the St. Helena area had their power restored by Tuesday morning, but 4,331 still lacked electricity, according to a PG&E website that tracks outages.

PG&E counts each home or business as a single customer, so the number of people directly affected by the blackouts is much larger.

In addition, PG&E has cut natural gas service to 32,000 customers in areas close to the fire lines, primarily in the areas of Santa Rosa, Yountville, Napa and Kenwood.

“Restoration (times) will depend on the extent of the damage our crews find,” Menniti said.

David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dbaker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @DavidBakerSF

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