Large swaths of central and Northern California were without electricity today as the state's largest utility began cutting power as a precaution against sparking wildfires.

The utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, said that as of early Wednesday morning (local time) power had been cut to around 500,000 of the 800,000 customers who will be affected. Once fully implemented the outages will span from the doorstep of Silicon Valley to the foothills of the Sierra.

Extreme winds are expected Wednesday and Thursday. Peak wildfire season has arrived in California, with a combination of high winds and low humidity creating conditions for

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Officials warned residents to stay off the roads

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The utility is trying to avoid a repeat of the deadly Paradise fire

Turning the power back on could take as long as five days

PG&E's website was down for many people, right when they needed it

Residents have been stocking up on generators and water

Mass transit is running, but many schools are cancelling classes

How much does a power cut reduce the risk of wildfire?