In a preemptive move as much of northwestern Oregon is set to fall under a red flag warning, Portland General Electric confirmed Thursday evening, Sept. 8, that it will shut off power to approximately 30,000 customers.
PGE plans to implement what are called public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). PSPS areas have been identified by the utility as being at particularly high risk of fire in case high winds damage or topple electrical equipment — for instance, power lines.
By shutting off power and de-electrifying equipment in high-risk areas, PGE hopes to avoid sparking a wildfire.
PSPS areas include swaths of the Coast Range foothills in far western Washington and Yamhill counties, rugged areas in eastern Multnomah, Clackamas and Marion counties — including much of the Highway 26 corridor in between Sandy and Mount Hood — and parts of the West Hills or Tualatin Mountains, near the Washington/Multnomah county line.
PGE breaks down the affected areas as follows, including the estimated time range in which the planned power shutoffs will begin:
• Area 1: Mount Hood Corridor/Foothills, 3-6 a.m.
• Area 2: Columbia River Gorge, 5-8 a.m.
• Area 3: Oregon City, 8-11 a.m.
• Area 4: Estacada, 3-6 a.m.
• Area 5: Scotts Mills, 5-8 a.m.
• Area 6: Portland West Hills, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Area 7: Tualatin Mountains, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Area 8: North West Hills, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Area 9: Central West Hills, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Area 10: Southern West Hills, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The areas of Silverdale/Corbett and Silver Falls will also see "preventative outages" starting between 5 and 8 p.m., PGE added.
It's unclear how long the preemptive shutoffs will last.
"Because these safety-related outages could last several hours or multiple days, it's important that you have an emergency plan in place," PGE advises customers on its website.
PGE has designated "community resource centers" where people affected by the outages can go to charge electronic devices, get water and ice, and stay informed about changing conditions. Those centers — all open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday — are:
• Estacada Baptist Church, 29101 S.E. Eagle Creek Road in Estacada
• Jim's Thriftway, 12350 N.W. Main St. in Banks
• Welches Elementary School, 24901 E. Salmon River Road in Welches
• Sheridan High School, 433 S. Bridge St. in Sheridan
• Silverton Safeway, 301 Westfield St. in Silverton
More information is available on the PGE website.
Pacific Power has also said it will shut off power in certain high-risk areas on Friday, including the Santiam Canyon corridor on Marion and Linn counties that was ravaged by fire two years ago.
Pacific Power announced the following locations for community resource centers:
• Bethel Baptist Church, 645 Cleveland St. in Aumsville
• Glide High School, 18990 N. Umpqua Highway in Glide
• Sankey Park, 877 14th Ave. in Sweet Home
The National Weather Service says northwestern Oregon faces "critical fire weather conditions" starting Friday, Sept. 9, and continuing into the weekend.
A red flag warning is in effect from 11 a.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, due to gusty winds, high temperatures and low humidity in the forecast.
"Conditions may be favorable for rapid fire spread which may threaten life and property," the NWS said in a statement from its Portland forecast office. "Use extra caution with potential ignition sources, especially in grassy areas."
Outdoor burning has been banned, by authority of local fire agencies, throughout much of northwestern Oregon.
Daytime high temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid- to upper 90s on Saturday in Portland, Hillsboro and Salem, before dropping into the mid-80s on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Temperatures are expected to be cooler next week, with daytime highs in the mid-70s to low 80s.
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
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