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Storm leads to downed trees and power lines, Hearst Castle closure

Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero was closed for several hours Monday while crews from PG&E worked to fix downed power lines near the Morro Toro fire station. Cal Fire was called to extinguish burning trees.
Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero was closed for several hours Monday while crews from PG&E worked to fix downed power lines near the Morro Toro fire station. Cal Fire was called to extinguish burning trees. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Trees and power lines are being reported down and power is out in numerous locations all over San Luis Obispo County this afternoon.

As the rain has paused, public works crews from cities and the county and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are responding to make repairs and clear roads.

More than 7,800 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in Arroyo Grande have been affected by power outages today, which began at 10:30 a.m. this morning, said Brandi Ehlers, a spokeswoman with PG&E.

The outages have been caused by numerous storm-related problems, including strong winds that have damaged power lines and other equipment, Ehlers said.

In Nipomo, 3,360 customers now are without power because of storm-related issues.

Ehlers said that PG&E is working to restore power to customers as soon as possible.

At San Simeon, Hearst Castle is closed for public tours of the house museum because high wind gusts of from 50 to 60 mph ripped a few roofing tiles off the main building, La Casa Grande.

"That's well beyond what we can handle, as far as public safety is concerned," Castle spokesman said Dan Eller, "especially with roof tiles coming off at those speeds.

The visitor center, its conservation hall and museum and the theater remain open. Those holding tickets to the first tour of the day (8:20 a.m.) were held at the visitor center for nearly an hour while officials surveyed the situation.

About 9:20 a.m., based on wind speeds, rain and the forecasts, State Parks closed the facility for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. Eller said they expect to reopen Tuesday.

In Arroyo Grande, numerous trees were downed, taking power lines with them, and on the Nipomo Mesa, a large eucalyptus tree was reported to be blocking Callendar Road at Raptor Street. And along Highway 41 in the North County, trees were reported on fire because of contact with power lines.

— Tribune staff reports

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