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Massive Power Outage Blacks Out Santa Barbara County’s South Coast

From Carpinteria to Goleta and deep into Ventura County, more than 160,000 customers go dark in outage blamed on Thomas Fire raging near Santa Paula

Southern California Edison outage map shows widespread impacts. Click to view larger
Southern California Edison outage map shows widespread impacts.

A major power outage struck the Santa Barbara County South Coast on Monday night due to damage related to the wind-whipped wildfire burning out of control near Santa Paula in Ventura County.

More than four hours later, power was restored to customers from Carpinteria to Goleta, but authorities warned additional outages were possible due to the fire.

The Southern California Edison outage map initially showed at least 51,500 customers without power on the South Coast, and nearly 107,000 others in Ventura County.

Just after 2 a.m. Tuesday, power was restored to Montecito, and by 2:30 a.m., the SCE map showed no other outages in Santa Barbara County.

There were reports that the outage was related to the Thomas Fire, which had charred at least 25,000 acres, destroyed several homes and prompted widespread evacuations as it burned out of control around Santa Paula.

SCE spokeswoman Susan Cox said at 11 p.m. that the Thomas Fire had affected a transmission line in the area, adding that she could not estimate when service might be restored.

There also were reports of outages in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and Santa Paula, according to the SCE website.

SCE officials determined outages affected 83,000 customers in Santa Barbara County and 150,000 customers in Ventura County, Cox said Tuesday morning.

“We’ve been able to get some folks back their electricity," Cox said.

As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, power had been restored to all but 20,000 customers in Ventura County, Cox said, adding she was not able to say when electricity might fully restored. Those customers shold be prepared to be without power for several days, she said.

SCE customers should be prepared for additional power outages since the transmission lines remained threatened and additional interruptions were possible, Cox said Tuesday morning.

In addition to fire related outages, SCE crews also have handled additional wind-related outages in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Malibu, Cox said, adding the priority has been to restore the transmission system.

"Due to the severity of the weather related outages, we are unable to provide estimated restoration times for some of the affected areas," SCE said on its website.

Late Monday, large crowds were gathering on Del Playa and other Isla Vista streets with reports of several couches being set ablaze in the area, according to emergency dispatch radio traffic. Firefighters also responded to fires in trash bins and at least one report someone was stuck in an elevator.

One result of the blackout was the clear visibility of the fire’s bright orange glow, which could be seen from the Montecito foothills late Monday.

Residents should check their emergency supplies and ensure they have working flashlights and emergency radios, Cox said. Candles should not be used during emergencies due to fire danger. Additional safety information can be found by clicking here.

SCE customers may report power outages by calling 1.800.611.1911.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story. Click here to sign up for Noozhawk’s free breaking news text alerts to your cell phone.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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