US - A power company has started cutting electricity to around 800,000 homes, businesses and other locations in Northern California, in an attempt to prevent wildfires.

Large swathes of the San Francisco Bay Area - though not the city itself - are expected to be affected.

The region’s utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), has warned the shut down could last several days.

The move has drawn anger from some residents.

With weather forecasts predicting high winds, the move is intended to prevent the risk of fallen power lines igniting the kind of wildfires that have devastated large areas of the state in previous years.

“The conditions are ripe: dry fuel, high winds, warm event. Any spark can create a significant event,” said Ray Riordan, director of the Office of Emergency Management in San Jose, during a press conference on Tuesday.

The huge “Camp Fire” in the town of Paradise last year burned 150,000 acres and left 86 people dead. An investigation determined that poorly maintained PG&E equipment was to blame for starting the blaze - the deadliest in California’s history.

The firm was also blamed for deadly fires in 2017. Subsequent lawsuits led the publicly-traded company to declare bankruptcy in 2019, a process which is still ongoing. PG&E is the sole provider of gas and electricity for much of Northern California, and so the vast majority of consumers in the region do not have an alternative source of power.

“We have experienced an unprecedented fire season the past two years,” said Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E spokeswoman, speaking to BBC partner CBS News.

“And what we learned from that is that we need to be taking further steps to ensure the safety of our customers and the communities that we serve.