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She survived the Paradise firestorm. Now, PG&E turned off her power: 'It's unconscionable'

Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Like millions of other Californians, Lilli Heart lost power early Wednesday morning.

Her lakefront home in Cottonwood, in Shasta County, went dark at 12:30 a.m.

At first, her Facebook posts were upbeat, even cheerful. She'd lost everything in the Camp fire 11 months earlier, so what's a little darkness to a 73-year-old survivor who fled Paradise and started over?

"Ok power now down glad I just got my bowl of ice cream eating by flashlight," she wrote and signed off with a heart emoji.

Eleven or so hours later, she was still mostly holding her own: "The wind is certainly strong today," she posted to Facebook. "My Hummingbirds are struggling to get to their feeders. They are freaking out. Cold here too. So with no electricity or propane I used what was left to get some hot water out of the tap the last of it to make more nectar for them."

And another heart.


By lunchtime, though, all bets were off. She'd swung by the vet to pick up medication for her ailing rescue cat and his cancerous thyroid. She headed to the market to pick up groceries, knowing the place was cash only and all she had on hand was $15.

She answered her cellphone and let loose on Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and its crippled electrical grid.

"I'm really mad at them," Heart fumed. "We've had high winds in California for years and they've never shut down the power. It's unconscionable."

The first power cutoffs, affecting about 513,000 customers, began shortly after midnight in several counties around Sacramento, including Placer and Yuba. Roughly five hours later, the outages had extended to Humboldt County to the north, Marin County to the south and Nevada County to the east, according to a map provided by the utility.


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