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PSA(News): PG&E power shutoff across California (updated Oct 30: Easy Fire near Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)


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Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

Update: my parents have been evacuated. 

This is such a cluster****    

1 minute ago, arctic_bunny said:

So... Why? The article is behind a firewall for me.

This is the 1st paragraph:

As a precautionary measure to reduce wildfire risk during the forecasted severe wind event, PG&E confirmed that it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in portions of 34 northern, central and coastal counties, affecting electric service for nearly 800,000 customers.

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5 minutes ago, arctic_bunny said:

So... Why? The article is behind a firewall for me.

 

From the SFChron

“The shutoffs are intended to prevent PG&E equipment from starting the kind of wildfires they were responsible in October 2017, when the company’s power lines started a series of fires in the North Bay, and last year, when they ignited the historically deadly and destructive Camp Fire in Butte County. PG&E has had the program in place for more than a year but has never used it on as wide a scale as it intends to do Wednesday”

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12 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

As the parent of a child dependent on multiple technologies that require electricity, I have what is the plan for people who need power to live?  

If the fire risk is that high, gas powered generators don't seem like the solution.  

It is expected that you will have backup plans (generator, batteries, etc) and an evacuation plan.

As an aside, when dd was on medical equipment, we kept a literal room of oxygen tanks, batteries, etc with her medical supplies. If you don’t have a plan in place, this is a good time to work on it. We were told by the utilities to plan for a week off grid. Even though we were on priority hookup, a huge weather event could keep us down that long.

PGE outages are nothing new. We aren’t in that zone, but we actually have a power outage right now due to a wind event. 

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6 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Didn’t they also do this last year, to much public outcry? Is there not a better long term solution being worked towards?

Not as far as I know. Or at least not as widespread. They’ve been talking about it for quite awhile though. 
 

We’re all asking the same questions about a long term solution. 

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5 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:


We have power outages where we live too, and of course we have a plan.  But some of that plan involves a generator, which doesn't seem like the solution when the fire risk is that high (fire risk isn't really an issue for us, so maybe I'm wrong).  And some of the plan is the assumption that we could relocate to friends or family, because around here most power outages are like what you might be experiencing, where a wind event takes out power to a street or a neighborhood, but we could drive to grandparents or other family or friends.  If our nearest 800,000 also have a power outage, that might not work.  

We've got a lot of back up oxygen, but we certainly don't have a week's worth of ventilator batteries (or batteries for other things, but the vent is what would become critical the fastest).  I just did the math, out of curiosity, and that's about $17,000 worth of batteries.  We've got about one day's worth, so if the power was out, and it wasn't safe to run the generator, that's how long we'd last, assuming that we hadn't just been out using up the batteries.  

And we've got that one day of battery power, and that generator, because we're in a position to pay for it.  We've got great insurance, and a middle class lifestyle.  There are plenty of elderly on fixed incomes or other people with a lot less, who might not need a ventilator, but who can get dangerously overheated without air-conditioning, or need insulin that has to be refrigerated, or who only have an oxygen concentrator and no tanked oxygen.  

Yes, it’s a huge problem.....one that most states and insurance companies don’t address.

Most people here (with money) who are that reliant on electricity do a generator on a concrete pad directly tied into the house. The fire risk is low. It’s not the $500 Honda generator situation we saw a lot of when we lived in ice storm areas or in a hurricane zone.

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OK, educate me.  How exactly did the electric grid cause the fires?  If it’s that easy for it to spark a fire, I would think it would be a more common thing to hear of fires starting that way.

Besides those with medical needs and those without A/C to stay cool, wouldn’t several days without power cause an economic problem?  Wouldn’t businesses be closed, tourism and other industries shut down?  What about people who can’t pay the bills because they can’t work?  I would think the local and state governments would be upset about this.  Or am I totally missing something?

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7 minutes ago, Terabith said:

Schools and many businesses will be closed, according to my friends who live there.  It will be quite the mess.  


The list of school closures for tomorrow is still being updated but many schools and some colleges would be closed.

Bay Area https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/08/heres-a-list-of-bay-area-schools-closed-wednesday-due-to-pge-power-outage/

ETA:

Shasta county https://www.redding.com/story/news/local/2019/10/08/pg-e-power-shutoffs-force-closure-anderson-schools/3910858002/

Edited by Arcadia
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Ugh I’m so glad I don’t live there any more. PG&E really needs to get their act together. That’s a lot of impacted people. 
 

We are expecting winds on Thursday so I would guess it is a wind event. 
 

 

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East coasters...is this the kind of protocol your electric companies have in place for hurricanes? I’m wondering if they are going to treat the threat of winds like hurricanes from now on. 

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I still don’t really understand what’s happening.   It’s supposed to be windy, so they’re shutting off the power to everyone?    I don’t get it.  I’m an east coaster.  I’ve never heard of anything like this.  Sure, when a power line goes down or transformer blows or whatever, the power is out until it’s repaired, but this sounds like they’re shutting everything down before anything happens.  Is that right?  

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It's not just NoCal, SoCal might shut off power. 

"Moderate Santa Ana winds are expected to sweep through our region starting Thursday and peak on Friday morning, bringing elevated wildfire danger to the backcountry and the potential for Public Safety Power Shutoffs," SDG&E said in a press release.

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-Power-Outages-Historic-562587831.html

A red flag warning was issued for most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and it was set to go into effect at 3 a.m. Thursday and go on until 6 p.m. Friday.

https://ktla.com/2019/10/08/more-than-100k-socal-edison-customers-including-in-l-a-county-could-lose-power-in-wildfire-prevention-effort/

 

 

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As a result of Resolution ESRB-8, the electric utilities developed de-energization programs, referred to as "Public Safety Power Shutoff" as a preventative measure of last resort if the utility reasonably believes that there is an imminent and significant risk that strong winds may topple power lines or cause major vegetation-related issues leading to increased risk of fire. The programs outline criteria the utility analyzes when considering shutting off power to one of more electric distribution or transmission lines, and protocols for when and how customers are notified. https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/deenergization/

It's part of the California Public Utilities Commission's Wildfire Mitigation Plan. Each utility company is supposed to be responsible for vegetation management; system hardening such as widespread electric line replacement with covered conductors; new inspection programs;  weather stations, high definition cameras, and use of computer modeling, weather and wind data and machine learning to predict where wildfires are most likely to strike. They are supposed to file a report after every outage and high-fire threat event.

The outages will hopefully be only a temporary normal until these things are complete, but if they are able to "prevent" wildfires, I'm afraid it will become a new normal. A lot of PG&E's lines are so old they need to be replaced. The line that caused the Camp Fire was known to have safety issues for 5 years. 

I think it will just drive more people that can afford it to go off grid. 

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Most of the west coast has a wet season and a dry season. It is not uncommon to have very little rain from March-October. Rainy season runs October-March. This is a different weather pattern than most of the US. 

Santa Ana winds (in Southern California) are inland winds that come from high and dry elevations and push out towards the coast. They bring very low humidity and have a drying effect.

PGE has a 32bn and counting liability from previous fires, is in bankruptcy, and is decades behind in maintenance. Some of these areas really should, IMO, have been built with buried lines (deep in canyons, remote, treed.) In other places, building permits should not have been issued. 

I think this is every bit as much about PGE forcing the conversation and action as it is about fire prevention.

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There is an ongoing Briceburg fire near Yosemite though with people being evacuated. Power shutoff has started for some cities.

https://fire.ca.gov/incidents/2019/10/6/briceburg-fire/ “Mandatory Evacuations: Areas that are currently under a mandatory evacuation include: Addresses on Hwy.140 between Octagon Rd. and Colorado Rd., Bug Hostel, All of Buffalo Gulch Rd. and Briceburg Campground.

Evacuation Advisory: This is NOT an Evacuation Order. This is an advisement only of a potential Evacuation Order should conditions change.

  • Colorado Road from Highway140 to Davis Road
  • All of Davis Road
  • Highway 140 from Colorado Road to Midpines Market
  • Ponderosa Way including all side roads: Deer Park, Leichtlin Lane, Feliciana Mountain Road
  • Rancheria Creek Road
  • Rumley Mine Road”

https://www.kcra.com/article/pgande-power-shutoffs-california-wedenesday-wildfire/29409688

“At 12 a.m. Wednesday, the utility started cutting power to 513,000 customers in the following 22 counties:

  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Colusa
  • El Dorado
  • Glenn
  • Humboldt
  • Lake
  • Marin
  • Mendocino
  • Napa
  • Nevada
  • Placer
  • Plumas
  • Shasta
  • Sierra
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Tehama
  • Trinity
  • Yolo
  • Yuba

Around 234,000 will lose power during a second phase of shutoffs set to happen around 12 p.m. on Wednesday.

The other counties scheduled for the second phase of the power shutoffs are:

  • Alameda
  • Alpine
  • Contra Costa
  • Mariposa
  • San Joaquin
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Stanislaus
  • Tuolumne

PG&E said it's considering a third phase of shutoffs for the southernmost portions of its service area that could impact about 42,000 customers. Counties included in that phase would be Santa Barbara and Kern.”

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My friend lives in Montara, on the other side of a tunnel to San Francisco.  The tunnel will be closed because without electricity they can't clear the exhaust.  Her husband can't get to work.  The tunnel has no generators?  Seriously?

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So now Oregon is thinking of doing the same thing.....

Portland General Electric (abbreviated PGE - not to be confused with PG&E) is working on a ‘comprehensive wildfire mitigation plan’. It’s considering preventative power outages in areas at risk of wildfires, such as Welches and Government Camp.

"It's something that we would only consider under the most extreme conditions," said Portland General Electric spokesperson Steve Corson.

https://nbc16.com/news/local/california-in-the-dark-oregon-electric-companies-consider-preventative-outages

 

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Substantial areas of my hometown burned to the ground last year.

This doesn’t strike me as a sexy or sustainable solution,  but I’m willing to guess an awful lot of people would rather make do without power for a few days than lose their homes, their neighbourhood or their entire community again. 

 

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News update https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Live-Updates-Caltrans-will-close-Devil-s-Slide-14502389.php

“1:10 p.m. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office says the outages have been delayed until 8 p.m.

1:06 p.m. Morgan City declares curfew: Morgan City officials said there will be a curfew from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 6:30 a.m. Thursday. “The curfew is intended for pedestrians loitering in areas impacted by the power shutoff. This curfew is for the safety of the community to reduce the opportunity for crime. Travel by vehicle and presence on one's own residential property is fine. Please note that checking on neighbors is not considered loitering,” authorities said in a statement.

1:06 p.m. Contra Costa County officials say shutoff delayed until 8 p.m.: County officials said in a tweet the shut-offs had been delayed for unspecified reasons.

12:54 p.m. Shut-offs delayed by change in weather: PG&E said power shut-offs will begin this afternoon and into the early evening in the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Mariposa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne. PG&E originally said these counties would lose power around noon.

...

12:22 p.m. Several injured in Santa Rosa car crashes: Authorities in Santa Rosa said they have responded to multiple car crashes, including five that injured people, at intersections without power. Authorities have asked drivers to slow down and treat intersections without power like four-way stop signs.

12:05 p.m. National Weather Service records increasing wind speeds: Winds were gusting 32 mph at 2,400 feet in the hills east of Healdsburg. A peak gust of 47 mph was recorded at Mount Diablo. Wind speeds are expected to increase throughout the day.”

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I was just in the San Francisco/Palo Alto area last week.  Compared to the East Coast, it was so dry!  It was beautiful as it was, but all of the grass was brown.  😞

It is so frustrating that this is the best solution that could be found for the wildfires caused by PG&E.

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7 hours ago, goldberry said:

My friend lives in Montara, on the other side of a tunnel to San Francisco.  The tunnel will be closed because without electricity they can't clear the exhaust.  Her husband can't get to work.  The tunnel has no generators?  Seriously?

Not to be rude to your friend, because it is unbelievable that those tunnels don't have generators, but they have only been open for about 5 years and before that people just drove up the 1 to get to the city...

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10 hours ago, Plum said:

East coasters...is this the kind of protocol your electric companies have in place for hurricanes? I’m wondering if they are going to treat the threat of winds like hurricanes from now on. 

 

It is absolutely not protocol in the gulf south to preemptively turn off power. 

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1 hour ago, Junie said:

I was just in the San Francisco/Palo Alto area last week.  Compared to the East Coast, it was so dry!  It was beautiful as it was, but all of the grass was brown.  😞

 

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

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Just now, MEmama said:

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

I love the way the hills look in the summer. It's like a painting.

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Just now, sassenach said:

It's just not nearly as dry. I can't remember any wildfires in all the years we lived in Florida.

 

Oh, there are wildfires in Florida for sure! Just not like California’s, not predictably annual, not swathes of forest burning. It’s usually marsh grass in a dry/drought season, sometimes ignited by dry lightening. But it can have an impact, I remember times the interstates and major roadways have closed due to smoke. 

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55 minutes ago, MEmama said:

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

Coming from the desert, I remember when middle ds was little and we drove into SoCal with it's greenish-brown hills and he said "It's so green here." 😊

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2 hours ago, MEmama said:

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

 

1 hour ago, Plum said:

Coming from the desert, I remember when middle ds was little and we drove into SoCal with it's greenish-brown hills and he said "It's so green here." 😊

 

SoCal, last month (ETA: cows 🙂 )

18AB2CD2-12D1-4531-8001-9B693EFB5C97.jpeg

Edited by Arcadia
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2 hours ago, MEmama said:

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

 

2 hours ago, sassenach said:

I love the way the hills look in the summer. It's like a painting.

Well, this makes me feel better.  :)

This was only my second trip to California.  (My first trip was to San Diego about 15 years ago.)  There's no such thing as a dry season where I'm from (I grew up in Pennsylvania and still live on the East Coast); if the grass here were to be that brown, it would be something to be sad about. 

Our trip to California was lovely.  I'm glad I don't have to be sad about the brown hills.

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Link has a video of the fire https://abc7news.com/brush-fire-burning-on-state-highway-12-west-of-rio-vista/5606965/

Also a PG&E truck was shot at in Colusa County before 8pm yesterday and the Oroville office was egged today morning.

“RIO VISTA, Calif. -- Crews are battling a vegetation fire that is burning in east Solano County at state highways 12 and 113 west of Rio Vista. The fire started Wednesday afternoon.

The Montezuma Fire Protection District responded to the three-alarm fire that reportedly has burned at least 50 acres, according to posts on Facebook.”

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7 hours ago, MEmama said:

We don’t get much news about CA here in Maine.

 

If you need to check on friends’ and relatives’ power outage status, this is the website to use  http://critweb-outage.pgealerts.com/

ETA:

The 8pm planned shutoff is now delayed pending weather conditions. It was originally scheduled for noon but the weather was okay so was delayed to 8pm.

8B486473-B46F-4688-9199-F56A2B61E1B2.png

Edited by Arcadia
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5 hours ago, Arcadia said:

 

If you need to check on friends’ and relatives’ power outage status, this is the website to use  http://critweb-outage.pgealerts.com/

ETA:

The 8pm planned shutoff is now delayed pending weather conditions. It was originally scheduled for noon but the weather was okay so was delayed to 8pm.

8B486473-B46F-4688-9199-F56A2B61E1B2.png

Thank you! 

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From abc7news https://abc7news.com/weather/pg-e-power-outages-impact-359k-customers-in-bay-area/5607592/

“There are now 359,000 people without power in the Bay Area after another round of PG&E's power shutoffs were implemented overnight. Parts of the East Bay, Peninsula, South Bay and Santa Cruz lost energy in the latest outages.

PG&E says phase 2 is complete and if customers have not lost power by now, they will not lose it.”

https://abc7news.com/firefighters-knock-down-grass-fire-near-homes-in-moraga/5607787/

“MORAGA, Calif. (KGO) -- Some Moraga residents are now able to return to their homes following an evacuation due to the Merrill Fire burning in the hills near St. Mary's College early Thursday morning.

The fire has burned 40-60 acres and is 70 percent contained, officials say.

Residents in Sanders Ranch are allowed to return home but Merrill Circle is still under evacuation orders.

The power is out at the evacuation center that was set up at Saint Monica Church but the Red Cross came with flashlights, lanterns, blankets, coffee and more.”
 

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15 hours ago, Arcadia said:

 

 

SoCal, last month (ETA: cows 🙂 )

18AB2CD2-12D1-4531-8001-9B693EFB5C97.jpeg

Just depends on where you are. I was in San Diego County at the end of September. It was a drizzling a bit as I came in. A little bit inland from here and you’ll see mountains that look more like the above picture. 

Being used to the desert, even when it’s not drizzling in CA, and even further inland, I can feel the humidity. My hair notices it, too! 😂

 

If you look closely at my pic, you can see power lines running through those trees. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😥

72E3DE56-67AA-4E8F-89FB-52E0026206BF.jpeg

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20 hours ago, MEmama said:

Oh don’t be sad! Lol. People love the brown hills—honestly. It’s a mediterranian climate, summer and fall are always the dry seasons. Nothing to feel sad about at all. 🙂

We use the funny reference "Golden State" for the golden-brown hills. A couple of yers ago, during the drought, "Brown is the new Green" was the slogan, wasn't it?

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This was done here last year to a rural city (is that a thing?). Too big for a town but not the main city.  I can’t argue with it because we have had deaths from fires started by sparking power lines.  However there are also maintenance issues with part of the power network and I really hope they don’t turn it off regularly instead of fixing it.

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On 10/9/2019 at 11:07 AM, athena1277 said:

OK, educate me.  How exactly did the electric grid cause the fires?  If it’s that easy for it to spark a fire, I would think it would be a more common thing to hear of fires starting that way.

Besides those with medical needs and those without A/C to stay cool, wouldn’t several days without power cause an economic problem?  Wouldn’t businesses be closed, tourism and other industries shut down?  What about people who can’t pay the bills because they can’t work?  I would think the local and state governments would be upset about this.  Or am I totally missing something?

I don’t know the ins and outs but dhs volunteer brigade have been called out twice to a fire started by the same power pole that was malfunctioning.  And it’s still not fixed.  The black Saturday bush fires in Victoria Aus at least were partially started that way.  And the power companies can potentially be sued for damages if it happens.  They are understandably cautious.

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there are several ways powerlines can start fires. 

 I only know of 3

 we had a fire start in a neighbouring property when wind blew a branch across the lines, bringing a line down that landed in dry grass and started a fire.

 if it has been dry for a while then there is a short shower of rain sparks can come out of the box thingy that is on some powerlines these sparks land on the ground and can start a fire if there is dry grass.

 In extreme heat, like Black Saturday in Victoria, the powerlines sag. if they are stretched over a long distance say up a very steep hill . they can sag enough to touch vegetation and start a fire. I believe this happened on Black Saturday. the heat was very extreme and unusual. some places something like 47oC. the power companies have since put in extra poles across the state in these types of locations  to hopefully stop this happening again 

 

in my area they spray the power poles with fire retardant , and slash a wide area underneath them, and prune back branches that may fall in strong winds.  I am right in the bush.

Edited by Melissa in Australia
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Our outage a few days ago was a tree that came down in heavy winds onto a wire which sparked and started a fire a couple of miles from me. Thankfully we had rain that same day so the grass fire didn’t spread to nearby houses. 

One other difference others may not intuitively know—a lot of west coast trees have shallow roots (easily knocked by wind) and that the trees themselves are stressed by climate change—hotter summer temperatures, drier summers (dry season is lasting longer) and beetles that have migrated into the area.

———

Local news is carrying stories today about how medical needs need to be better addressed during power outages.

 

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