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CALIFORNIA – Authorities issued new evacuation orders as wildfires that led to mass power cuts continued to sweep through the state yesterday.
The orders, covering large parts of Santa Rosa city, markedly increases the number of residents told to evacuate.Around 180 000 people in northern California have been put under evacuation orders.
“This is the largest evacuation that any of us at the Sheriff’s Office can remember,” the sheriff’s office said.
The new evacuation order encompasses a huge area of Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, where an estimated 175 000 people live.
Sonoma County has been ravaged by the Kincade Fire, which has already burned through 30 000 acres (12 000 hectares) of land.
Fears about the extent of the wildfires led Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to initiate a precautionary blackout expected to be the largest in state history.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said the outages, lasting until today, were “unacceptable”.
A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles and Sonoma counties, and thousands of firefighters are battling the blazes.
PG&E said the power cuts would affect 940 000 households and businesses across 36 counties in northern California – hitting an estimated two million people.
“We have begun implementing the public safety power shutoff,” a PG&E official confirmed in a press conference on Saturday evening. (BBC)