San Diego Gas & Electric Co. said Oct. 24 that it had put every available team , including 750 employees and 80 additional contractors , in the field working to restore power that had been lost to nearly 20,000 local customers due to the fires that started last week.
As of late afternoon on Oct. 24, the fourth day of the fires, hundreds of thousands of acres had been burned and more than $1 billion in damage had occurred, officials said.
SDG & E;, which functions with two transmission corridors, lost one of those corridors, the Southwest Powerlink, early in the week. The link, which extends from Otay Mesa to Arizona, was working again by late afternoon on Oct. 24.
On the same day, the Sempra Energy-owned utility issued concerns that the county’s second power link, which extends from San Diego to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, could be lost as well.
SDG & E; representatives were contacting “medically sensitive customers” , those who need power to use medical devices , about possible service disruptions and asking customers to reduce usage and avoid using appliances such as dryers and dishwashers to help prevent evacuation centers from losing power. As of Oct. 24, more than 1,500 customers were affected by natural gas outages as well, according to SDG & E.;
Hundreds of transmission and distribution structures were destroyed, causing the Folsom-based California Independent System Operation Corp. to declare a transmission emergency for the third day in a row, from Oct. 22-24, according to Stephanie McCorkle, director of communications. The exact number of structures lost was unavailable from the California ISO, a not-for-profit public benefit corporation that manages the electricity flow in California.
By Oct. 24, SDG & E; also requested additional crews from areas in the Southwest region not affected by the wildfires to help with damage assessment.
The utility said Oct. 24 that it did not know when power would be restored.
In the 2003 Cedar Fire, more than 3,000 poles had to be replaced and a statement from SDG & E; on Oct. 24 said the fires that started last week seemed to have already exceeded the damage done by the Cedar Fire. The Cedar Fire was the largest fire in state history, consuming 270,000 acres and killing 14 people.
SDG & E; services 3.4 million consumers in San Diego County in a 4,100-square-mile area.