UPDATED as of Dec. 15, 11 a.m.
As the Thomas Fire continues to burn in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, first responders have given the OK for Southern California Edison crews to enter the damaged areas to begin repairs.
As of 11 a.m. on Dec. 15, the Thomas Fire is continuing to threaten the transmission lines serving Santa Barbara and crews are monitoring the situation. About 486 customers are without power due to the Thomas fire. System-wide there are about 652 customers without power, which includes those impacted by the fires.
SCE is asking that residential and commercial customers in the Santa Barbara area significantly reduce their power usage to ease potential strain on the local system.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to restore service under difficult and volatile conditions,” said Christine Fanous, SCE incident commander. “Due to the fires, the system could face additional strain and customers are being asked to conserve energy.”
SCE crews have completed damage assessments in 100 percent of the areas it has been granted access to by the fire agencies. Many areas impacted by the Thomas Fire remain inaccessible.
Progress on the repairs will be determined by weather, terrain and the fire’s movement, but so far crews have replaced 531 of the 782 poles damaged in the Thomas Fire and all of the poles damaged in the Creek, Rye and Liberty fires.
As SCE crews replace poles, wires and equipment destroyed or damaged in the fires, new equipment is installed that meets current engineering, construction and material standards and is the appropriate replacement for the area being served. SCE does not typically conduct system upgrades during fire restoration so it can assess and restore service to customers as quickly and safely as possible. However, the new equipment and material installed often exceeds the capacity and/or rating of the equipment being replaced.
Contingent on flight restrictions by fire agencies, aerial inspections for the Thomas Fire began Monday morning for some of the damaged areas.
SCE is coordinating its emergency efforts with state, county and local officials. SCE contacted all 47 of its Critical Care customers and offered generators of which 18 accepted.
Customers may report or inquire about outages at 800-611-1911 and get the latest information using the SCE outages app at sce.com/outages. Customers can also get the latest information by visiting sce.com/staysafe or at twitter.com/sce and facebook.com/sce. Customers impacted by the fire can visit SCE’s Wildfire Support and Information page.
SCE Safety Tips in Fire Area & High-Wind Conditions:
- If you’re in a vehicle with a fallen power line on it, stay in the vehicle and remain calm until help arrives. It is OK to use your cellphone to call 911. If you must leave the vehicle, remember to exit away from downed power lines and exit by jumping from the vehicle and landing with both feet together. You must not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then proceed away from the vehicle by shuffling and not picking up your feet until you are several yards away.
- Power outages in the area may impact traffic signals, and vehicles should treat all intersections as four-way-stops. Use extreme caution.
- Water and electricity don’t mix. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Do not step in or enter any water that a downed power line may be touching.
- If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into it, using a heavy-duty extension cord. Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed,” which is dangerous to repair crews. Please consult the manufacturer’s manual for operating the generator.
Energy Conservation Tips:
- Set thermostats to no higher than 68 degrees.
- Postpone using major appliances like dishwashers and washer/dryers.
- Minimize how often you open your refrigerator or freezer.
- Turn off unnecessary lights.