- Power cuts due to extreme fire weather are relatively new to the Pacific Northwest.
- The proactive shutdown is only the second time for Portland General Electric to date.
- The utility companies said they were keeping in touch with affected customers via email, text and social media.
Wildfire fears and power outage fears are not limited to California on Friday. In Oregon, the threat of high winds caused targeted power outages that could affect tens of thousands of customers.
Power cuts by local utilities are part of efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires in extremely dry and hot conditions. Power outages due to extreme fire weather, common in California, are relatively new to the Pacific Northwest.
The Cedar Creek Fire in central Oregon received special attention Friday: “Easter winds are pushing the fires westward and we’re sure to have very, very tough fire conditions through the end. Saturday,” Cedar Creek Fire Sexton spokesman Bud said.
Tens of thousands are expected to lose power
Follow OregonLive.com. “Power was cut off in those areas to help reduce the chance that a downed power line could cause or exacerbate a wildfire,” the website says.
More than 40,000 customers, including in Portland’s posh West Hills neighborhood, are likely to lose power late Friday during planned outages as winds of up to 60 mph hit some areas and heat swings in the high 80s and low 90s.
Schools in areas with planned power outages have canceled classes and authorities have urged residents to charge their mobile phones and be ready to evacuate as soon as possible.
The proactive shutdown was only the second for Portland General Electric. The utility stopped powering 5,000 customers in 2020 near Mount Hood during firestorms that devastated the state.
The utility companies said they are keeping in touch with affected customers via email, text and social media, as well as through their websites, OregonLive said.
The role of climate change
Erica Fleishman, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, says climate change is bringing drier conditions to the Pacific Northwest, and that requires strategies that are already common California has been prone to fires for more than a decade.
Contributions: The Statesman-Journal; Related press