SUNLAND, Calif. -- With powerful Santa Ana winds blowing into Southern California late Sunday night, Southern California Edison is looking at the unprecedented step of shutting off power in areas where fires could be sparked by downed power poles.
In the past, power equipment has been blamed for setting off wildfires that spread rapidly among the same type of dry, windy conditions expected overnight. The company is facing lawsuits over allegations its equipment was involved in starting the massive Thomas Fire.
SoCal Edison has launched a new program called "Public Safety Power Shutoff" that involves proactively turning off power in areas where the winds could be strongest.
Sunday night could be the first time it is put into action.
The company has sent out alerts notifying customers in 41 cities spread throughout four counties - Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Bernardino - that power could possibly be turned off. Edison does not yet know where or when that might occur. Officials will monitor conditions Sunday night into Monday morning and make the decision as the winds pick up in various communities.
Details on how the program works and which communities may be affected are available here.
Some area residents told Eyewitness News they can live with the inconvenience of the power shutoff given it could save lives and property by preventing wildfires.
"I think if it's necessary, it should be done," said Sunland resident John Hart. "We just have to bite the bullet. We're the ones who choose to live here, so you gotta take the good with the bad."