Wildfires, Power Cuts Hit Northern, Southern California


    29 October, 2019

    Hundreds of thousands of families in California are being affected by wildfires in the state, and as many as 1.5 million people may lose electrical power.

    The company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) called for another blackout early Tuesday in 29 northern California counties. An earlier power outage that started Saturday affected 2.5 million people, the Associated Press reported.

    PG & E is the nation's biggest utility company. But it has been severely criticized for the last two years over the part it has played in fires in the state and how it has provided electricity during those times.

    Some Californians are unhappy with the company's decision to cut electricity. Janet Luoma of Santa Rosa told the Associated Press, "It's so obvious it's just to protect them from more liability."

    California Governor Gavin Newsom has grown accustomed to fires. "What's interesting about the fires at this moment is that it's rather normal," he told reporters Monday. "What's not normal is the power shutoffs," he added.

    The fires have affected or destroyed many homes across the state. They have even affected people who live in costly neighborhoods in southern California. NBA Basketball superstar LeBron James was forced to leave the area where he and his family live and tweeted about it on Sunday:

    "Man these LA fires�aren't no joke. Had to emergency evacuate my house and I've been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far! "

    In Northern California, schools are closed in some areas while others do not have power. Stores in Oakland, near San Francisco, are using generators. And many people use their cars to charge their electronic devices.

    Affecting north and south

    The fire is affecting areas in both the northern and southern parts of the nation's second largest state by land area.

    In the north, the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection says the Kincade Fire is affecting more than 30,000 hectares in Sonoma County. The fire has been burning for five days and is only 15 percent contained. Sonoma County is famous for wine growing. The AP reported that 96 buildings were destroyed in the county as of Tuesday. But it is only one of the fires in the area.

    A firefighter works on a house destroyed by a wildfire called the Getty Fire in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    A firefighter works on a house destroyed by a wildfire called the Getty Fire in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

    In southern California one of the fires has destroyed homes near the Getty Museum which holds a major art collection and library. However, while eight homes nearby were burned the museum is in better condition than other structures. It is made of stone and has a huge water storage tank.

    Strong winds are feeding the fires and spreading them quickly. Weather experts on Tuesday said they expected strong winds in the north with little chance of rain.

    Scotty Richardson spoke to AP about his experience. He lost power on Saturday. He said the possibility that electricity will not be restored for days makes him "furious, furious."

    Last week, PG & E admitted that its equipment might have been the cause of fires in some areas.

    I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

    Michelle Quinn reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional material from AP. Hai Do was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    county–n. an area of a state or country that is larger than a city and has its own government to deal with local matters

    utility –n. a service that supplies something needed to the public like electricity or water

    accustomed –adj. used to, familiar with something so that it appears normal

    rather–adv. to some degree or extent

    liability –n. to be legally responsible for something

    evacuate –v. to leave some place, often by order

    furious –adj. extremely angry

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