EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — A grass fire left nearly 50,000 residents without power with temperatures soaring past 100 degrees after PG&E officials decided to shut off electricity to protect firefighters.
From atop a hill, nervous neighbors saw the billowing smoke and the flames that crept dangerously close to a PG&E substation along Highway 50.
Firefighters worked under the scorching sun, and also under power lines, forcing PG&E to make a drastic move.
“They’ve had us on standby because of the heat, so they’ve kept us ready for something to happen. I didn’t think it was gonna be this extreme,” said PG&E foreman Greg Sisemore.
Smoke acts as a conductor of electricity, so to keep crews safe, PG&E shut off power in the area, leaving 50,000 residents without power while temperatures were well into the 100s at the hottest point of the day.
No air conditioning in triple-digit heat had some residents scrambling, but for some, keeping cool was the least of their worries.
“It has created issues for people on ventilators and such that are now on battery power if they don’t have a generator,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mark Brunton.
Meanwhile, crews kept an eye on flare-ups from a fire that grew to five acres and threatened homes and businesses.
Kathleen McGinness and her brother dropped everything to help as the brush fire spread near the El Dorado Nursery and Garden.
“And it started catching on fire, so I said, ‘Dude, Dude, you’re on fire.’ ‘No we’re not.’ ‘Yeah you are.’ so I grabbed a hose and told my mom to get out of her house.”
No buildings were burned, and finally the lights came back on.