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The Latest: Wildfire in California wine country grows

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Posted at 8:57 AM, Oct 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-29 11:57:24-04

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on planned power outages to prevent California wildfires (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

A wildfire burning in Northern California's wine country increased in size overnight but fire crews have kept pace containing the flames.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Tuesday that the fire in Sonoma County north of San Francisco is now 118 square miles (305 square kilometers). That's up from 103 square miles (267 square kilometers) Monday morning.

The fire started last week and remains at 15% contained, which is the same percentage as Monday night, when the fire was smaller.

About 156,000 people remain under evacuation orders after about 30,000 people who had been evacuated were allowed home Monday.

About 90,000 structures are under threatened, most of them homes.

The fire has destroyed 124 buildings, including 57 homes.

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8:25 a.m.

Los Angeles firefighters are working to increase containment of a wildfire in the city's Brentwood area before a new round of gusty Santa Ana winds raise the wildfire threat.

Mayor Eric Garcetti says the fire covers 658 acres (266 hectares) Tuesday after growing only slightly overnight and is 5% contained.

The fire is only smoldering but Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas warns that a single ember blown downwind could start a new fire.

Forecasters predict what could be the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season, with gusts up to 70 mph (112 kph) starting around 11 p.m.

The fire erupted early Monday and rapidly spread through neighborhoods in canyons and on ridges of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Eight homes have been destroyed and six damaged. Extensive evacuation orders remain in place.

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7:15 a.m.

The Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility has begun a new phase of shutting off power in parts of its Northern California service area to try to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during periods of strong winds and extremely dangerous fire conditions.

Utility spokeswoman Ari Vanrenen said Tuesday that the utility began the process of shutting off power early Tuesday to about 46,000 customers in Butte, Tehama, Plumas, Trinity and Shasta counties.

There are about 2.5 people for every customer, meaning about 115,000 people are affected.

Vanrenen says power could be cut later Tuesday to 596,000 customers in 29 counties. That would affect 1.5 million people.

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11 p.m.

Millions of Californians prepared to be in the dark - some 5 days, or longer - as the nation's largest utility said it was switching off power again Tuesday to prevent powerful winds from damaging its equipment and sparking more fires.

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. said its latest blackout will start early Tuesday and affect about 1.5 million people -in 29 Northern California counties.

Across the region, it was clear that patience was wearing thin and frustration at the utility was growing.

Southern California Edison had cut off power to about 800 people as of Monday night and warned that it was considering disconnecting about 400,000 more as winds return midweek.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)