Utility company cuts gas to residents in wildfire-hit California area

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest U.S. utility companies, said Friday that it has cut gas service to 12,000 residents in Paradise city threatened by raging wildfires in northern California.

The San Francisco-based PG&E said the gas service has been suspended for security concerns “in and around the City of Paradise,” where at least five people were found killed in vehicles engulfed by the wildfire that had grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square km), one day after it erupted early Thursday morning.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday the blaze, dubbed the Camp Fire, has burned 2,000 structures and forced more than 50,000 people to evacuate, making it the fourth most destructive wildfire in California history.

PG&E disclosed that as of Friday morning, 25,000 of its customers were currently without power due to the impacts of the Camp Fire.

“At the request of first responders, PG&E turned off power to some customers as an emergency precaution to support safety and firefighting efforts. Others lost power due to fire-damaged equipment,” said the company.

The utility operator said it has mobilized its Emergency Operations Center in San Francisco to support wildfire emergency response to the Camp Fire in Butte and Plumas counties in northern California.

On Thursday, PG&E reversed an earlier announcement warning customers of potential power loss, saying it would not be preemptively shutting off power to northern California residents in response to high fire-risk conditions.

By Thursday noon, about 34,000 households in Butte County were without power, mostly caused by fire damage, a PG&E spokesperson said.

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