Coroner: Man on oxygen did not die because of power outage

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PLACERVILLE, Calif. (KOLO/AP)-- Oct. 11 Update:The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said the coroner has completed the investigation into the death of Robert Mardis, 67, who died about 12 minutes after PG&E turned off electricity to Pollock Pines.

“An autopsy was completed this afternoon and the cause of death was determined as Severe Coronary Artery Atherosclerosis,” the sheriff’s office said. “Mardis also had a clinical history of C.O.P.D. The investigation into this death has concluded and this case is considered closed. The power outage from the recent PSPS was not the cause of death. Next of kin notifications have been completed.”

Original Story:

The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Northern California fire officials say a man dependent on oxygen died about 12 minutes after Pacific Gas and Electric shut down power to the area as part of a massive effort to prevent fire.

El Dorado County Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan said Friday that fire personnel responded to a call in Pollock Pines that came in after 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

He said crews arrived to find an unresponsive man in his 60s and were unable to revive him.

Ogan said the man's oxygen equipment required power but could not say whether the shutdown was related to his death.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said it has not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report.

The utility started turning off electricity early Wednesday in Northern and Central California in advance of strong, dry winds.

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6:50 a.m.

Pacific Gas and Electric says it has restored power to more than half of the nearly 2 million people left in the dark in Northern California after the utility shut down power to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.

PG&E says it has restored electricity to about 426,000 businesses and residences. Another 312,000 customers remain without power. Experts say a customer includes between two and three people.

Areas without power includes Plumas, Yuba and Butte counties, where people are on their third day without electricity. Butte County is where a fire started by PG&E equipment last year decimated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The utility says power also remain out in of Kern County in the southern part of the state's agricultural Central Valley, where strong winds prompted PG&E to cut power on Thursday.

The utility it was able to restore power after winds subsided and workers could inspect its power lines.

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4 a.m.

A wildfire fueled by Santa Ana winds has closed two freeways, is threatening homes and has forced evacuations around Los Angeles.

Fire officials say the Saddleridge fire had consumed more than 4,600 acres by 3 a.m. Friday.

It broke out after 9 p.m. Thursday along the 210 Freeway and jumped the highway. Flames also crossed the 5 Freeway. The highways were closed because of heavy smoke.

Authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations in the Granada Hills, Porter Ranch and Oakridge Estates neighborhoods.

Several homes were seen burning in Granada Hills, and the LA fire department said an "unknown number" of homes were potentially threatened.

There were no reports of injuries.

The blaze comes as hot, dry winds are raising concerns that the region's largest utility could widen power shutoffs to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires.

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10:15 p.m.

Hot, dry winds sweeping into Southern California raised concerns that the region's largest utility could widen power shutoffs Friday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires.

Southern California Edison turned off electricity to about 20,000 people but warned that thousands more could lose service as Santa Ana winds gained strength.

Meanwhile Winds gusted dangerously as forecast in Northern California before weather conditions eased and the lights started to come back on. Planned blackouts affected millions and Pacific Gas & Electric faced hostility and second-guessing for its widespread shutoffs.

Over 500,000 PG&E customers were still waiting for power to come back on as of Thursday night.

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