(CNN) — Thousands of customers of California’s largest utility company will find out Saturday morning if they will have to spend days without power as fires continue to rage in the state.
Pacific Gas & Electric officials are expected to decide by 8 a.m. (local time), if the company will cut power to about 850,000 customers, a utility spokesman said.
The planned power outage could last several days, the utility said, to prevent a “catastrophic wildfire”during what is expected to be particularly dry and windy weather.
PG & E has been under scrutiny in recent years for the role its equipment played in several devastating fires across the state, including last year’s deadly Camp Fire. Over the last weeks, it has been enacting preventative shut offs all over northern and central California, but this weekend’s could be the largest this year.
Estimates indicate the potential outage could affect more than 2 million people, a spokesperson with the company said.
Customers in 36 counties are at risk of losing power, the utility said Friday. Some of the areas that may be impacted are Humboldt, the Sierra foothills, Western Sacramento Valley and the greater Bay Area. Paradise, which was devastated by last year’s deadly Camp Fire, could also be impacted by the blackout.
While the shutoff is not confirmed yet, the utility said it could begin Saturday and last until midday Monday.
If the blackout is needed, PG & E Vice President Sumeet Singh said, the utility will start by shutting off power in 13 counties in the Northern Sierra foothills at 3 p.m. (local time).
Eight more counties in the North Bay and Mendoncino area would lose power at 5 p.m. The Bay Area, coast and southern portion of the Sierra foothills would be impacted by 7 p.m.
The news of the potential outage comes as the utility is in the process of restoring power to about 179,000 customers in Northern California. Power was restored to 99% of its customers on Friday, with the exception of Sonoma County where the Kincade Fire continues burning, the utility said.
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