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Heat wave hits as 20th anniversary of blackout approaches
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The current heat wave that started Saturday with the initial day of 100 degree plus heat and is expected to continue through this Saturday comes just two weeks shy of the worst modern power outage ever in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop as well as the rest of Northern California.
The blackout of Aug. 10, 1996 came shortly before 4 p.m. in the South County on a sweltering day when the high reached 107 degrees — exactly the forecast for Thursday and Friday of this week. The National Weather Service calls for today and Wednesday to be slightly cooler at 106 degrees.
A series of incidents —four power lines failing in Oregon in less than two hours followed by a line shorting in the State of Washington and then 13 turbines at McNary Dam on the Columba River that suddenly stopped operating — triggers a rolling blackout that knocked power out to 4 million people in eight western states including most of Northern California.
Power was out in Manteca for nearly five hours.
Manteca Fire officials were more than a little nervous as hundreds — if not thousands — of Manteca residents sought relief from the stifling heat that late afternoon and early evening by taking cold showers in darkened bathrooms or turning on hoses outside to cool down.
The emergency generators on city water wells strained to keep up with the increased demand while water levels dropped in the Wetmore Street tank sending pressure tumbling. There was a real concern if a fire broke out Manteca could lack adequate water pressure to fight it.
Since then Manteca has added surface water to its municipal water mix to eliminate 100 percent reliance on ground water.
While most of San Joaquin County was without power, the situation was worse on the Bay Area where darkened traffic lights led to a massive gridlock just as the afternoon commute was nearing its peak.
Conditions are not the same as in 1996 but PG&E and state power regulators are asking people to use electricity judiciously through at least Saturday to avoid creating the potential for power outages.

Second day for
blood donations
added in Manteca
Delta Blood Bank — in an effort to counter a significant drop in daily donations — has added a second day for donors to give the gift of life at their Manteca location.
Through at least Sept. 5 the Manteca location at 1030 North Main in the center anchored by 24 Hour Fitness and Rite-Aid will be open Tuesdays (including today) from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donors on Tuesday will receive a free coupon good for a buy one Chipotle taco and get another taco — or other similar priced item — free.
The blood bank’s Manteca location will continue to be open year round on Mondays from 1 to 7:30 p.m.
Blood supplies that Delta Blood Bank provides to 11 hospitals in San Joaquin, Stanislaus. Calaveras, Tuolumne, and El Dorado counties have dropped to a critical level after donations dropped off by almost 50 percent at the start of summer.
Donors must be in good general health, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least v110 pounds and have a valid identification card such as a California’s Driver’s License.
To make an appointment call 888.942.5663.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email