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SCE Monitoring Whittier Fire in Santa Barbara County, Urging Energy Conservation

If the fire impacts transmission lines, customers in the Santa Barbara area could lose power

UPDATED July 17,  9 p.m.

Southern California Edison continues to closely monitor the Whittier Fire near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County. 

The weather forecast is stable, there are no sundowner winds and the fire poses no threat to SCE facilities.  

SCE has crews in the area and has developed a robust contingency plan to address any potential loss of the transmission lines and will work to reduce the disruption to customers should the fire impact its facilities in the region. Additional staffing and resources are on standby for fire-related outages220 kV access roads have been opened, and SCE has been approved to hot wash insulators tomorrow morning.

Due to these potential impacts, the system could face additional strain and customers in the Santa Barbara area could lose power. To relieve some of that additional strain on the system, SCE is urging Santa Barbara area customers to conserve energy this week. Small actions from area customers can make a difference.

If the fire does impact transmission lines, crews will assess the damage and begin repairs as safely and quickly as possible once the fire agencies grant access.

SCE is working closely with fire operations personnel as well as emergency operations organizations in the Santa Barbara area.

SCE has a contingency plan to restore customers, but some customers could experience extended outages. SCE has notified critical care customers about potential outages that could impact them due to the fire. If you rely on electrical operated medical equipment in your home, we want you to be prepared to implement your emergency back-up plan if power outages occur. 

As of 9 p.m. Monday the fire has burned 18,311 acres and containment is at 62 percent. 

SCE’s No. 1 priority is the safety of its customers and employees. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind should you experience an outage:

  • If you come across any downed wires, stay away and call 911.
  • Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and flashlights. Check the batteries to make sure they’re fresh. Use flashlights for lighting during a power outage. Do not use candles because they pose a significant fire hazard.
  • If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into it, using heavy-duty extension cords. Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed,” which is dangerous to repair crews.
  • When power is out, traffic signals may be out, so approach those intersections as four-way stops.

Six ways to conserve energy:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and to 85 degrees or “off” when you are away.
  • Give your air conditioner a rest when possible and cool your home with open windows and fans.
  • Close your blinds to keep out the afternoon heat.
  • Plug home electronics into power strips and turn off power strips when equipment is not in use.
  • Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they aren’t being used.
  • Give your appliances a break.