At a press conference this morning at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Kearny Mesa, the big word was power, or the lack of it. County Supervisor Ron Roberts called the county’s power situation “precarious.”

San Diego Gas & Electric’s Chief Operations Officer Mike Niggli said SDG&Es capacity has been stretched by the fires, which have knocked out the company’s southern power line into the county. A concerted effort by authorities has meant the company’s power line has been relatively mildly damaged however, and he’s hoping the line can be fixed in the next two days.

The county’s other major power line in the north of the county has also been affected by the fires in Camp Pendleton.

For the second day straight day, Niggli urged residents returning to their homes to conserve power and to be aware of the power crunch the county is under.

“Yesterday was a very tight day on the power grid. The only way we made it through yesterday is with the significant conservation efforts of our customers. We want to thank our customers for everything they did yesterday and now we want to ask you to redouble your efforts. We need your conservation efforts today to help us make it through the day,” he said.

Other county officials talked in cautiously optimistic tones.

Councilman Brian Maienschein and Council President Scott Peters gave updates on their districts. Sheriff William Kolender said more people have been evacuated in the fires than during Hurricane Katrina and SDFD Chief Tracy Jarman said a huge firefighting seaplane is on its way down from Canada to help assist with the efforts.

No more casualties have been reported.

WILL CARLESS

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