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PG&E Wildfire Safety Operations Center - photo by Chip Buchanan

PG&E Awards Local Grants, Opens Wildfire Safety Ops Center

SAN FRANCISCO — In recognition of California Wildfire Awareness Week (May 7-10), PG&E announced it will provide $2 million to local Fire Safe Councils in 23 counties for 30 projects that reduce wildfire risk and help keep communities safe.

The funds will pay for fuel reduction, emergency access and defensible space projects, as well as chipper days in local communities. This is the fifth year PG&E has partnered with local councils on projects to reduce wildfire risk, providing over $13 million since 2014.

Locally, grants were awarded to the Highway 168 Fire Safe Council, The Mariposa Fire Safe Council and the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council.

  • The Highway 168 Fire Safe Council was awarded $100,000 for fuels reduction projects on Routt Mill Road and in the Dogwood area.
  • The Mariposa Fire Safe Council received two grants, of $50,225 and $85,300, for downed tree removal and debris removal projects.
  • The Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation & Development Council received $34,500 for a fuel reduction project in the Ridgeline Community near Bass Lake.

PG&E also will continue its daily aerial patrol program to spot and speed response to wildfires. The patrols, which will start June 1 and continue through October, will occur over hundreds of miles of PG&E’s service area to assist state and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response. The patrols will coordinate with the new Wildfire Safety Operations Center, opened in preparation for the 2018 wildfire season.

The center, which will be staffed 24/7, will monitor potential fire threats across PG&E’s service area in real time and coordinate with first responders and public safety officials to respond to any emerging threats and help keep communities safe.

The Wildfire Safety Operations Center is part of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, launched in March as an additional precautionary measure intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. Through the program, PG&E says they are bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts, putting in place new and enhanced safety measures, and doing more over the long term to harden its electric system to help reduce wildfire risks and to keep its customers safe.

“Extreme weather is increasing the number of wildfires and length of wildfire season in California,” said Pat Hogan, PG&E senior vice president of Electric Operations. “We must continue to adapt to meet the challenges created by this ‘new normal.’ Our Wildfire Safety Operations Center is designed to quickly identify and respond to potential fire risks and work safely with fire agencies to reduce or respond to the threat.”

The state-of-the-art Wildfire Safety Operations Center will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, primarily during wildfire season, and will be operational at other times of the year as well, depending on conditions.

“It will be staffed with highly qualified individuals who are knowledgeable in electric operations, safety, engineering, meteorology and other areas.” say PG&E officials. “Located at PG&E’s San Francisco headquarters, its proximity to PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center will ensure close coordination across its wildfire safety operations and emergency response teams. This coordination will include the pre-staging of PG&E crews and Wildfire Response Teams to help keep customers safe.

“The Wildfire Safety Operations Center will work closely with PG&E’s meteorologists who monitor weather conditions and potential fire threats. PG&E utilizes technologies including its own weather monitoring stations mounted strategically throughout its service area. The team also uses publicly available databases, websites and emergency alert systems from agencies such as Cal Fire, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Caltrans, the Bay Area Regional Air Quality Control Board and local public safety authorities.”

Center staff also will work closely with fire agencies and community partners to coordinate emergency response efforts. The center will serve as PG&E’s on-the-ground communications hub and will partner with local government, first responders, media and others to provide advance and real-time emergency response information to local communities.

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