Blackouts begin as winds build in California

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Pacific Gas & Electric says it has begun turning out the power to 940,000 customers _ more than 2.3 million people _ across Northern California because of growing winds and extreme fire danger.

PG&E says shut-offs began around 5 p.m. Saturday in the Sierra foothills and north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Blackouts will roll through parts of 36 counties and last until at least Monday.

It’s the latest preventative shut-off amid concern that gusty winds could knock out power equipment and spark fires.

Forecasters say the encroaching wind event will peak early Sunday and be among the strongest in years.

Some 50,000 people under new evacuation orders are fleeing Sonoma County communities near a huge wildfire that will be stoked by the new round of winds.

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