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Power outages abound amid strong winds, fires nearby

All SRVUSD schools to stay open on Monday, even 6 in PG&E shutoff zone

Tens of thousands of Tri-Valley residents have been without power this weekend -- a combination of PG&E-implemented shutdowns and debris-caused outages as strong winds, wildland fires and smoky skies wreaked havoc outdoors throughout the Bay Area from Saturday night into Monday morning.

As of 7 p.m. Sunday, PG&E is reporting 3,655 customers were without power in Pleasanton, 6,800 in Livermore, 3,523 in Dublin, 2,673 in Danville and 1,601 in San Ramon.

Many of those were the result of PG&E’s preplanned Public Safety Power Shutoffs -- though fewer Tri-Valley neighborhoods than originally estimated were affected in the end -- but some other outages were localized as a result of downed power lines or utility poles amid gusty, dry conditions all day Sunday.

The Tri-Valley has largely be spared from wildfires, except for a 35-acre blaze on Mines Road in rural, unincorporated Livermore, but other parts of the Bay Area saw wind-fueled fires spread over the weekend.

Fires broke out in Vallejo, Crockett, Martinez, Lafayette and Clayton at different times, plus the days-long Kincade Fire in Sonoma County continued to rage, reaching Windsor on Sunday and rising to nearly 55,000 acres with only 5% containment.

The latter fire was the main cause of smoky skies seen throughout the Bay Area on Sunday, resulting in poor air quality ratings in the region.

Public safety agencies in all Tri-Valley cities urge residents to be aware of debris created by the gusty winds on Sunday as well as to remain diligent while driving through neighborhoods and intersections without power.

All San Ramon Valley Unified School District schools are scheduled to open as usual on Monday, officials said Sunday evening.

Four public schools in the Tri-Valley will be closed on Monday because they are without power due to PG&E power shutoffs; every other campus in all four public school districts are scheduled to remain open on Monday.

This latest round of blackouts is due to an "historic" extreme wind event that started early Sunday morning and is forecasted to last through Sunday and into Monday.

The shutoffs are expected to continue through approximately 2 p.m. Monday, depending on weather conditions. Restoring power could take days afterward as well in some areas.

PG&E outage maps are available at this website.

Residents can check with their individual city or town websites (or county, for unincorporated areas) for information specific to their communities and recommendations for how to prepare.

PG&E officials said that another wind-related weather event is expected to hit the area midweek, and could trigger another round of Public Safety Power Shutoffs, a PG&E official said.

PG&E has been shutting off power proactively to prevent wildfires after utility lines started massively deadly and destructive fires over the last two years. PG&E has estimated that similar power shutoffs may be necessary for the next decade until the utility can upgrade its technology.

The power shutoffs are the reason Pleasanton Unified School District is closing Foothill High School, and Fairlands and Lydiksen elementary schools on Monday, with all other schools to remain open as usual, Superintendent David Haglund said Sunday evening.

“This is being done as a precaution, as our fire alarms, safety systems and lights will not be functional until after power is restored,” Haglund said in a message to the PUSD community. “If you have students at Fairlands, Lydiksen and Foothill, please DO NOT send your students to school. All other schools will remain open as usual.”

In Dublin, Fallon Middle School is the lone school in a shutoff zone and will be the only one closed on Monday, DUSD officials said.

In the San Ramon Valley, all schools will be open on Monday, even the six within the shutoff zone (Green Valley, Live Oak, Montair, Monte Vista, Rancho Romero and Vista Grande), according to SRVUSD officials.

They noted that the air quality situation may impact athletics on Monday; North Coast Section officials will decide by 1 p.m. Monday if games will be played.

In Livermore, no schools are in the shutoff zone so all will be open as usual, LVJUSD officials said. Croce Elementary did briefly lose power on Sunday due to wind and debris.

Las Positas College in Livermore will also be open as usual.

Fallen tree limbs and downed power lines could be seen across the Tri-Valley as strong winds persisted all day Sunday.

San Ramon police officials said such issues were especially prevalent in Dougherty Valley and southern San Ramon while reminding people to avoid walking or driving near downed lines and trees.

The historic “Old Oak Tree” outside downtown Danville saw a major branch fall because of the high winds, making the tree unstable and causing police to close Diablo Road between West El Pintado Road and Interstate 680. As of Sunday evening, motorists were encouraged to use El Cerro Blvd or Sycamore Valley Road as alternates.

“An arborist has been brought out to determine the stability of the tree, and what further actions may need to be taken. A tree service is on site and working to remove limbs that may be considered at risk,” Danville officials said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday declared a statewide emergency as fire rages in the North Bay and other parts of California.

Contra Costa County has declared a local emergency due to severe weather conditions that have prompted numerous area vegetation fires and resulted in significant wind damage.

Susan Shiu, a spokeswoman for the county, said that this declaration should increase the potential for Contra Costa County to receive funding from the state to help pay for the costs of fighting local fires and dealing with other weather-caused problems.

The proclamation, signed by County Administrator David J. Twa, states that "conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within the county, caused by a severe weather event commencing at 8 p.m. (Saturday). The velocity and duration of wind, coupled with low humidity, is driving wildfires in multiple locations, causing power disruptions, tree falls and infrastructure damage, and necessitating evacuations; and that these conditions are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the county."

All East Bay Regional Park District parks will remain closed until 9 a.m. Tuesday because of the weather conditions, officials said.

East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), which supplies water service in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is asking customers to minimize water usage during a power shutoff.

-- Information from Bay City News was used

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