November 4, 2003

INLAND EMPIRE, Calif., Nov. 4, 2003—Southern California Edison officials said Tuesday that most of its customers in the San Bernardino Mountains now without power can expect to have their electrical service restored by late Wednesday.

“Conditions permitting, we expect to restore service in the next 24 hours to 85-90% of our customers now without power in the San Bernardino Mountains,” said Dick Rosenblum, SCE senior vice president for transmission and distribution.

At the same time, officials warned it could be weeks before repairs to SCE’s electrical infrastructure are completed in the mountain areas ravaged by wildfires.

As of Tuesday afternoon, approximately 10,000 customers remained without power in the mountains, most of them in the communities of Twin Peaks, Running Springs, Sky Forest, and Lake Arrowhead.  Rosenblum said that most customers in those communities with an inhabitable home would have power restored by late Wednesday.

Approximately 24,000 customers in Crestline, Running Springs, and Lake Arrowhead lost power Saturday, Oct. 26, when wildfires knocked out two transmission lines supplying the mountain.  Subsequently, the wildfires damaged much of the electrical infrastructure in the area.  All told, approximately 300,000 customers throughout Southern California experienced some kind of interruption, from flickering lights to outages lasting days, due to the wildfires.

“Since Saturday, when authorities gave us permission to go into the areas hardest hit by the wildfires, our crews have worked around the clock to rebuild most of the electrical infrastructure,” Rosenblum said.  “This work was done in areas with limited access and rough terrain while our crews coped with icy roads, cold, damp conditions, and tons of debris obstructing some of their work.”

Systemwide, the wildfires damaged or downed an estimated 1,500 power poles and more than 700 transformers.  In addition, SCE recorded more than 340 locations with wires down.

Officials noted that questioning SCE crew members while they make repairs will only delay the process of restoring electrical service.  SCE has more than 500 field and support personnel working to restore power in SCE’s eastern region, most of them in the San Bernardino Mountains.  Customers seeking information or an update on power restoration efforts should call 1-800-611-1911.  

To better cope with any scheduled or unscheduled power outage, SCE advises mountain customers to:

  • Check on the medical needs of family and neighbors. 
  • Use flashlights.  Don’t use candles, which can start fires.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries to stay informed. 
  • Maintain at least three-quarters of a tank of gasoline in your vehicle(s). Gas station pumps do not operate during power outages.
  • Have alternate, back-up arrangements in place to keep perishable food chilled and fresh in the event of prolonged outages.  Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during an outage.  A well-filled, unopened freezer will keep food frozen for hours without electricity. 
  • Never connect a portable generator directly to a power line.   State law requires that customers inform SCE when a generator is being used at a home or business.  Call SCE at 1-800-655-4555. 
  • Never touch a power line suspended in the air or lying on the ground.

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 12 million via 4.5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.