Stanford cancels classes as fire burns in San Mateo County

Stanford University canceled in-person classes Thursday and Friday due to a power outage caused by a wildfire in unincorporated San Mateo County.

The university informed students and faculty that the campus would be closed until power was restored by PG&E. The utility company said it did not have access to the area where electrical equipment was damaged by a wildfire that started burning earlier this week.

“While PG&E has not provided an update on the power restoration, we are preparing for the possibility that it may take days,” Stanford University said on its social media Thursday. “PG&E continues to provide limited power through a branch line, but not enough to meet normal campus needs.”

On Wednesday evening, power was restored to hospitals and other high-priority buildings and residences on campus.

Cassidy Dalva, a sophomore at Stanford who works as a research assistant, said she was in a lab on campus around 2 p.m. Tuesday when the lights suddenly went out. A few minutes later, everyone in the building was told that they had to leave because the air conditioning would turn off next. About half an hour later, cell reception also stopped working.

“A lot of people were quite worried, especially when we had no cell reception. It was pretty scary,” Dalva said. “I tried to stay with my friends and not be alone very often just because there was really no way to reach anyone in case something happened.”

Dalva noted that although her dorm now has electricity and cell reception, she knows of other dorms on campus that are still without electricity. The students created a spreadsheet to track which buildings on campus have power and which do not.

Students also did not have access to filtered water in the dorms during this time. Dalva said key cards also stopped working temporarily, meaning students couldn’t enter residence halls for a while.

“The combination of no cellular reception, no wi-fi, no air conditioning — all of that made a lot of people nervous,” Dalva said. “I will say people have really come together. It was something that calmed me down a bit. »

The university provided students in halls of residence with flashlights, according to Dalva. Stanford has also designated certain locations as 24-hour respite spaces, where electricity is maintained throughout the day. Students can use the power outlets at these locations to charge their personal devices. Dalva said those spaces filled up very quickly over the past two days.

According to Stanford Community Alerts, while restoring power to student residences is a priority, it “still falls well short of a full campus restoration.”

Stanford University is about 25 miles east of the fire which was first reported in dry vegetation Tuesday afternoon in Edgewood County Park. The fire has burned 20 acres and as of Thursday is 90% contained.

The cause of the outage is still under investigation, PG&E said in a statement Thursday.

PG&E said it was notified of the outages affecting San Mateo County Tuesday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. and worked throughout the day to restore power to customers. As of Thursday morning, only 13 customers were without power, including Stanford University, PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado said.

“We are actively seeking to connect affected customers to other sections of our electrical system and will begin repairs as soon as the area is secure and access is cleared by first responders,” Tostado said.

Utility crews are awaiting authorization from Cal Fire so they can access and repair damaged electrical equipment.

“We understand how disruptive it is to be without power and are using every tool at our disposal to restore power as quickly as possible,” Tostado said.

Los Angeles Times

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