Officials with Southern California Edison said Saturday the utility expects many of its 3,000 customers who have been without power due to damage from the Erskine Fire will likely remain without power through the weekend, possibly longer.
The news means more hardship for many Kern River Valley residents already weary of disaster, displacement and loss.
"Because the fires are still burning, it is not possible to provide an estimate of when all affected Edison customers will have power,” the utility said Saturday in a news release, with additional information conveyed through social media. "SCE crews are starting to gain access to some areas affected by the Erskine Fire. They are safely clearing lines and assessing damage to electrical equipment before they can start repairs. Because of the extensive damage to its infrastructure, SCE will not be able to provide a clear timetable for the restoration of service at least through the weekend.”
In some cases, the utility said, properties damaged in the fires will require repairs and inspections before service can be restored.
SCE spokesman David Song said in a tweet sent directly to a reporter that the utility has been having a hard time notifying impacted customers. By using traditional media as well as social media the company hopes to reach more residents who have been displaced or had their lives disrupted by the fast-moving fire. In addition, Song said, SCE is sending representatives to evacuation centers to provide “in-person updates” for evacuees.
Additional repair crews and support personnel from across the service territory, and materials, including poles, wires and transformers, have been moved into the area to make repairs.
As with all incidents of this nature, the company said, SCE coordinates and prioritizes restoration of electricity service to key facilities, such as police, fire and hospitals, pending clearance from fire authority to do so.