wildfires Troy Whitman

SCE Crews Work With First Responders to Gain Access to Fire-Damaged Areas

As several wildfires continue to rage across the Southland, Southern California Edison’s damage assessment teams and crews are working with first responders to see when they can safely enter the devastated areas to begin making repairs.

As of Dec. 7, 4:30 a.m., there are approximately 8,800 customers without power across SCE’s service territory. This number includes customers who have been impacted by the three fires across the service area. These include the:

  • Thomas fire along the North Coast (approximately 6,300 customers)
  • Creek fire in Sylmar (23 customers)
  • Rye fire in Santa Clarita (48 customers)

Damage assessment teams have not been granted access to fire-damaged areas of the Thomas fire. When they gain access, the progress of their work will be determined by weather conditions, terrain and the movement of the fires. The magnitude of the damage is anticipated to be significant and extensive, but a full accounting of the destruction will not be available for a few days. 

The restoration effort for the Thomas fire will require construction work from the ground up on the local circuits that power the fire-affect areas. This includes the engineering and design of all utility structures, and the installation of poles, transformers, switches, etc.

Customers impacted by these fires should be prepared to be without power for at least the next few days and power will be restored to customer incrementally on a circuit by circuit basis. There is no specific order in which customers will have power restored beyond the accessibility to the fire-damaged areas. The only priorities that will be considered where accessibility isn’t an issue are essential services (police and fire facilities, hospitals, water and sewage facilities) and critical care customers. The last circuits to be rebuilt may take up to a week or more.

SCE customers across Southern California are experiencing extremely dangerous high winds, fire activity and Red Flag conditions and may lose power. Due to public safety concerns, SCE may also turn off power to specific circuits in areas where there is a high risk of predicted extreme winds.

Forecasts indicate continued and worsening weather conditions for the remainder of the week. If outages do occur, the power will stay off until weather conditions improve, and SCE personnel can patrol and inspect lines before returning them to service so power can be restored safely.

“We understand the inconvenience of turning off electric service and will make every effort to reach out to customers in affected areas to make them aware and will work to notify fire and public safety agencies, as well as local and state officials in advance of shutting off power,” said Paul Grigaux, incident commander and SCE vice president of Transmission, Substations and Operations.

“The company’s No. 1 priority is to protect public safety as well as the integrity of the system serving customers.”  

Estimated power restoration information related to these specific areas will be updated as it becomes available. For additional information on outages customers can visit sce.com/outages. 

SCE has mobilized resources to the impacted areas and has additional crews and personnel on standby in case there are outages caused by the fires. Many of the scheduled maintenance outages in areas affected by the fires will be rescheduled. SCE is also contacting critical care and medical baseline customers affected by the Thomas Fire.

Transmission lines will continue to be threatened as the fires burn along the transmission path, possibly causing additional interruptions. A local transmission emergency was declared by the California Independent System Operator due to the loss of critical transmission lines serving the Ventura and Santa Barbara area, and the system operator has requested additional generation units to support restoration of power for the impacted area.

Power outages and intermittent service interruptions will continue for customers as the fires burn and impact SCE facilities. Due to the fires, the system could face additional strain and SCE is asking customers to conserve energy.

-Caroline Aoyagi-Sto

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