San Rafael, CA – All Marin County residents who experienced power losses during the recent Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) are back up and running, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) announced November 1.
PG&E notified the County of Marin that it had completed inspections of power lines and other equipment prior to re-energizing its customers. The last Marin residents affected – those in northern coastal communities of West Marin – had their power turned back on by 6:30 p.m. October 31. There were 121,581 PG&E customers in Marin who were in the dark for several days during the PSPS event, accounting for nearly the entire county population. (A customer can range from a single person to everyone living in one large apartment building.)
Residents endured outages that started Saturday, October 26, as a preemptive measure against wildfires as high winds were forecast. The PSPS protocol was in response to the combination of high temperatures, high winds, and extreme fire conditions similar to those experienced prior to the 2017 North Bay Fires that killed 44 people and destroyed 8,900 buildings.
The Kincade Fire, which started October 23 near Geyserville, continues to burn in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties. The fire was at 77,758 acres and 68 percent containment as of 7 a.m. November 1. Thus far, 352 structures were destroyed and 55 more were damaged, but no fatalities were reported.
In Marin, a temporary shelter was opened October 27 for Sonoma County residents at Marin Center’s Exhibit Hall, a County of Marin facility. More than 650 people received aid from the American Red Cross and the State of California, with coordination assistance from the County of Marin. All residents were returned to Sonoma County and the shelter closed at 3:30 p.m. October 31. As Marin households were powered up, temporary device charging stations around the county also shut down.
Marin County was under a Red Flag warning from October 26-30 because of weather conditions. Despite the power restoration, residents are still advised to exercise extreme caution during the dry weather because a simple spark could cause a major wildfire. Fire agencies in Marin, including the Marin County Fire Department, have increased staffing resources during the heightened threat and will remain on high alert until rains arrive.
Staff from the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rallied to contact hundreds of local residents who rely on electricity for medical needs.
“We found that 85 percent of those contacted had not prepared for an extended outage … it was news to them,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Officer. “Many of them were socially isolated older adults with life-sustaining equipment who had not been informed of the PSPS. Those opting to live independently are especially vulnerable if they are not capable of staying informed. It’s incredibly important for people to build a support network whether or not they have family nearby. Some of them need to have that support network created for them. Our staff will continue to reach out to this population, but we urge family, friends, and neighbors to watch out for people with access and functional needs.”
Marin experienced one significant wildfire just prior to the Red Flag warning as the Muir Fire scorched 58 acres in a remote spot between Muir Beach and Stinson Beach. More than 100 Marin firefighters were deployed this week outside of the county to assist with other wildfires, even in Southern California.
Emergency management officials deactivated the County’s temporary Emergency Operations Center on October 31 and will continue to share messaging that reduces resident surprises about future preemptive PG&E outages. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services reminds residents and visitors that it is important to have a plan to adjust daily routines to one without PG&E power. Much more information can be found on www.readymarin.org or Marin HHS’ page about preparation for extended outages.