California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday afternoon issued an emergency proclamation for Sonoma and Los Angeles counties due to the effects of the Kincade and Tick fires, which have "destroyed structures, threatened homes, & caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents."
According to an Associated Press update on Friday evening, howling winds that have fueled the destructive fires were beginning to die down. But the respite was not expected to be a long one. Residents in the northern part of the state were girding for another round of power outages aimed at preventing what are expected to be the strongest gusts in years from sparking still more blazes this weekend, AP wrote.
Meanwhile, the state utility that has been criticized for imposing blackouts in order to prevent such wildfires says a transmission line that it didn’t shut off may have been the source of a blaze that was raging out of control in the Golden State.
The Kincade fire near the Northern California town of Geyserville so far has burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people.
It was driven by the strong winds that had prompted Pacific Gas & Electric to impose sweeping temporary blackouts affecting a half-million people in Northern and Central California. PG&E resorted to the shutoffs after fallen power lines and other electrical equipment were blamed for several blazes in recent years.
However, PG&E said Thursday it didn’t de-energize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that malfunctioned minutes before the fire erupted Wednesday night. The company reported finding a “broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower that evening.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment ignited the fire, adding that the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in excellent condition.
In shutting off the electricity, PG&E cut power to the distribution lines that supply homes, but not to its long-distance transmission lines.
The disclosure comes after a PG&E worker was targeted in an attempted attack earlier this week, officials said.
In that incident, the worker’s front passenger seat window was reportedly shot at by a projectile. The employee was not injured in the incident and the projectile was believed to be fired by a pellet gun.
PG&E President and CEO Bill Johnson had called the incident a “deliberate attack” and called on communities to stop such acts of “violence,” according to SFGate.
Fox News’ Gerren Keith Gaynor and The Associated Press contributed to this report.