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california fires

Power could be cut in Northern California Tuesday to reduce risk of wildfires

The lights could go out in parts of Northern California, as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced on Monday it is considering cutting power Tuesday night over fears high winds may bring down lines.

If the company does turn off the power, it will affect about 39,000 residents in 16 counties, the Los Angeles Times reports. Strong winds are expected to start picking up overnight, and with gusts possibly hitting 35 mph on Tuesday, PG&E said it does not want to risk power lines falling down in dry brush and sparking wildfires. 

Northern California's Dixie Fire, which started July 13 and is now the second-largest wildfire in state history, may have been started by a tree falling onto a PG&E power line, company officials said. The Fly Fire, a blaze that was sparked 30 miles away on July 22, may also have been ignited by PG&E equipment, and investigations are underway.

As of Monday morning, the Dixie Fire has burned 569,707 acres, including 50,000 since Friday. The blaze has swept through forests and remote areas, destroying more than 1,173 structures and more than $1 billion worth of timber and leveling the town of Greenville. Officials said the fire is threatening 14,800 additional structures.