The Latest: PG&E equipment sparked 3 Bay Area fires

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on California fires (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Northern California officials say Pacific Gas & Electric Co. equipment caused three fires that broke out in San Francisco suburbs earlier this week.

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District confirmed Friday that the utility’s power lines sparked a pair of fires Sunday in Lafayette east of San Francisco.

One of the fires destroyed the Lafayette Tennis Club.

The district also said that PG&E’s power lines and transformer started a brush fire in Martinez on Sunday. Residents were ordered to evacuate but allowed to go home a short time later.

PG&E has previously said its power lines may have started the wildfires in Lafayette.

California’s largest utility executed four rounds of widespread power shut-offs this month to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires but did not entirely succeed.


12:28 p.m.

Shifting winds are causing problems for firefighters trying to contain a Southern California wildfire.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says the Maria Fire about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles has grown to just under 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) as of midday Friday.

County Sheriff Bill Ayub says the fire is threatening 2,300 structures and about 8,000 people are under evacuation orders.

The fire erupted Thursday evening on a prominence called South Mountain and has burned down its flanks toward small communities.

Red Flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions had been expected to expire but forecasters are considering extending them until Saturday evening.


11:45 a.m.

Tens of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. work illegally on the farms and in vineyards of Northern California, where a fire forced many to evacuate this week.

Translators and aid workers have been at evacuation centers, helping Spanish-speaking families. Groups are raising funds for those out of work. Local governments have increased bilingual outreach. They also have told immigrants that Immigration and Customs Enforcement won’t have access to any shelters, trying to allay fears that immigration authorities would use the crisis as an opportunity to detain and deport people.

The fire burning in Sonoma County has forced over 180,000 to evacuate, has burned 167 homes. Most of those evacuated have been allowed to return home, but they face power outages after California’s biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, has again imposed blackouts.


9:21 a.m.

California weather conditions that led to power shutoffs to prevent wildfires and fanned fires that broke out around the state have eased significantly.

Southern California Edison says only 1,100 customers remained without power early Friday, down from 80,000 the previous evening.

San Diego Gas & Electric says power was restored Thursday to more than 25,000 customers and its community resource centers have been demobilized.

Pacific Gas & Electric has finished restoring power to dozens of counties in the north and central regions.

Cal Fire says containment of the state’s largest fire has increased to 67 percent.

Latest assessments show the 121-square-mile (313-square-kilometer) fire in Sonoma County has burned 167 homes and 175 other structures. Another 33 homes are damaged.


7:20 a.m.

A wildfire northwest of Los Angeles has grown but authorities say heavy winds that fan fires have subsided and cold temperatures are reducing the fire’s movement

The Ventura County Fire Department says Friday that the blaze that started on a hilltop Thursday evening near the city of Santa Paula spanned more than 12 square miles (31 square kilometers), up from 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) earlier.

Evacuation orders were issued to about 7,500 people in an area that includes about 1,800 buildings.

Dozens of schools were closed Friday because of the fire.


12:20 a.m.

A brush fire north of Los Angeles has quickly grown to more than 11 square miles (28 sq. kilometers) even as calmer weather allowed crews to increase containment on multiple wildfires elsewhere in the state.

Ventura County emergency officials provided an update around 11:30 p.m. Thursday that said the fast-moving fire had spread to approximately 7,400 acres, with 0% containment. The fire erupted Thursday evening itself, quickly spreading from a hilltop near Santa Paula. Authorities have ordered evacuations for around 7,500 people in an area that includes roughly 1,800 buildings.

Dozens of locals schools across several districts have announced Friday closures in light of what’s being dubbed the Maria fire.

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub says aerial firefighting efforts were hampered by someone flying a small drone “apparently looking at photography” Thursday evening.


10:25 p.m.

Calmer weather allowed crews to increase containment on multiple wildfires after gusts fanned blazes across California and led utilities to cut power to prevent winds from damaging equipment and igniting an inferno.

The winds largely subsided as Red Flag warnings for fire danger remained in place through Friday evening for some inland areas to the north and west of Los Angeles.

A wildfire erupted Thursday evening and quickly spread north of Los Angeles. Authorities ordered evacuations for about 7,500 people in an area that includes roughly 1,800 buildings as the blaze threatened the community of Somis.

Nearly 200,000 Sonoma County residents were allowed to return home amid a 120-square-mile (311-square-kilometer) fire that forced them to evacuate. At least 140 homes were destroyed.

About 80,000 people in the south remained without power after intentional blackouts.

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