PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Residents in Oregon are being alerted about the potential for power shutoffs later this week as officials warn about expected critical fire danger on Friday and Saturday.
Fire danger is expected to rise on Friday, Sept. 9, starting around mid-day as winds from the northeast ramp up across the region. Some in Oregon and Southwest Washington will be living in areas covered by a red flag warning, while others will be under a fire weather watch, as of Wednesday afternoon.
Portland General Electric and Pacific Power alerted their customers to the likelihood of power shutoffs as a result of the increased fire danger.
“(Wind) has a chance to blow items into powerlines which can then create a spark,” said Drew Hanson with Pacific Power. “The way the weather interacts across that terrain and how it interacts with our system is something that we’re able to track and then know where the high-risk areas are.”
Pacific Power says about 12,000 customers in Linn, Douglas, Lincoln, Tillamook, Marion and Polk counties will face a power outage as a result of the winds, specifically in the following areas: Stayton east through the Santiam Canyon, Lebanon, Sweet Home, Lincoln City, and Glide east along the Umpqua Highway.
On Thursday evening, the power company issued its estimated shutoff times for Friday:
- Douglas County: 6 a.m. Friday from Toketee Falls east to Diamond Lake, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
- Linn County: 6 a.m. Friday Sweet Home east along Highway 20, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
- Marion County: 6 a.m. Friday Lyons east along Highway 22, with additional areas added around 4 p.m.
- Lincoln County: 10 a.m. Friday
- Tillamook County: 10 a.m. Friday
- Polk County: 10 a.m. Friday
Pacific Power said the shutoffs may come sooner based on the intensity of the conditions. Furthermore, additional shutoffs may occur throughout the day as the wind conditions progress.
The company will also set up community resource centers in impacted communities. Find a list of those centers here.
“[It’s] a place where people can come, have access to air conditioning, charge up their devices and there will be some other amenities there as well,” Hanson said.
Meanwhile, Portland General Electric says it is “likely” they will be shutting off power in 10 high-risk areas on Friday and Saturday — affecting approximately 30,000 customers. In a Wednesday press release, the company said it will only resort to this power shutoff if absolutely necessary.
PGE said these high-risk areas include: The West Hills, Tualatin Mountains, North West Hills, Central West Hills, Oregon City, Estacada, Mt. Hood Corridor/foothills, Columbia River Gorge, Scotts Mills and the Southern West Hills.
The Public Safety Power Shutoff Zone also includes downtown Portland, Southeast Portland, East Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Newberg, and part of Hillsboro. The map below shows the entire PSPS area.
PGE noted if conditions persist, they aim to provide up to four hours of notice before shutting off power.
“If you have a medical need for electricity, make a plan now in case of power outages,” Multnomah County officials tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Residents are advised to make a plan, which includes making a list of emergency contacts, preparing an outage kit, making sure batteries are fully charged or have a generator, having a back-up for extended outages and having a transportation plan in case you need to leave home.
Items in an outage kit should include a battery-operated light, emergency medical supplies, equipment and assistive devices with your contact information, ice packs and an ice chest for medication, fresh batteries and power banks, food and water for up to 72 hours, according to Multnomah County officials, who also remind residents to not forget about their pets.