Similarly strong winds in northern and central California prompted utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric to impose a precautionary shutoff of power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses to reduce the risk of wildfires.
But some 600,000 customers are still without electricity.
"If they had de-energized this time last year and a year ago, a lot of people would be alive", he said.
Johnson appeared to agree, adding his company failed to adequately communicate with its customers about the power shutoffs. It's unacceptable that its website crashed, maps were inconsistent and call centers were overloaded, Johnson said.
"Turning off our customers' power is not something we take lightly, but PSPS events are one of the ways we can better ensure the safety of the public, our customers, and our employees", the company said.
Some people in the largely rural Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties and in Northern California's famed wine country counties were in their third day without electricity.
The lights were back on Friday for numerous almost 2 million Northern California residents who lost electricity when the state's largest utility switched it off this week in an effort to prevent wildfires, as the first death linked to the outages was reported - a man who relied on oxygen.
The wind-driven fire, dubbed the Saddleridge Fire, erupted shortly before 10 p.m. near the westbound 210 Freeway near Yarnell Street.
Several other small fires were reported further north but quickly tackled by firefighters.
The weather service forecast north to northeast winds with gusts up to 30 miles per hour across some parts of the area.
Newsom said blackouts were "an industry best practice" under risky conditions, but blamed PG&E's failure to modernize its network for the current scale of power cuts. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January as it faced billions of dollars' worth of possible liabilities stemming from years of devastating fires in Northern California. Experts say a customer includes between two and three people.
In the midst of confusion and frustration over the outages, there had been some positive news for PG&E customers. Power will be restored to areas once up to 77 mph (124 kph) winds die down and 2,500 miles (4,025 km) of transmission lines could be inspected.
PG&E told NBC News this week that because the blackouts are a planned safety measure, customers wouldn't be reimbursed for lost business, housing alternatives or spoiled food and medicines.
A truck driver dumped the rubbish in his vehicle on the side of the road after it caught fire, sparking the blaze, Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman April Newman told the Los Angeles Times.
Firefighters check on homes in smoke from the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, Calif.
"We want to make sure there are no embers, nothing that could restart that fire", Hill said.
The fire covered just over 200 hectares and is 10 per cent contained, the department's spokesperson, Rob Roseen, said early on Friday.