(Bloomberg) — More than half a million people have lost power across California as part of a deliberate blackout designed to keep power lines from igniting wildfires. Meanwhile, a major blaze has already erupted.

PG&E Corp. and other utilities have cut service to nearly 200,000 homes and businesses in shutoffs that could eventually affect 1.5 million people as wind storms threaten to knock down power lines. About 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of San Francisco, a fire ripped through more than 10,000 acres in Sonoma County in just hours.

PG&E has been taking more extreme measures to prevent wildfires since its equipment sparked a series of blazes that devastated California in 2017 and 2018, saddling the state's largest utility with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and forcing it into bankruptcy. Two weeks ago, the company carried out the biggest planned blackout in California history, plunging 2 million people into darkness and triggering a debate over how far the state is willing to go to keep fires from happening.

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