OAKHURST — In response to the recent and dramatically increasing wildfire threat across the state, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has announced that it is accelerating its vegetation management work in the central and southern regions of the Sierra Nevada mountains “to further reduce the risk of wildfire and keep our customers, their families and our communities safe.”
The work is already underway in several local counties, as evidenced by a micro-site that has been established across from the CHP Oakhurst Office on Highway 49 near Westlake Drive.
More than 400 tree workers are assigned to the local region along with more than 160 inspectors. Work sites will change regularly as PG&E clears circuits in high fire threat areas. They have set up a main location in Sonora and have smaller sites in Angels Camp, Mariposa, Oakhurst and Groveland.
The sites provide a staging area for the tree crews and a place to hold morning safety and logistics briefings. The Oakhurst site was already being used for log decking.
Local miles of circuits in high fire threat areas:
- Fresno County – 33.3 miles in the Shaver and Auberry area
- Madera County – 210 miles in the Ahwahnee, Bass Lake and Oakhurst areas
- Mariposa – 161.8 miles in the Bootjack, Fish Camp, Greeley Hill, Mariposa, Midpines and Wawona areas
According to Cal Fire and the National Interagency Fire Center, in 2018, as of late August, more than 5,800 wildfires have already burned over 1.4 million acres.
“The unprecedented, destructive nature of the wildfire risk that California faces this year demands additional steps to further mitigate wildfire threats and keep our customers safe,” says PG&E Operations Communications Manager Denny Boyles. “As a result, we are augmenting our Community Wildfire Safety Program (CWSP) to accelerate our vegetation and safety work and reduce the risk of vegetation coming into contact with power lines.”
This wildfire safety work involves creating even greater clearances between trees and power lines, including overhanging branches and limbs, in areas the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has designated as at extreme risk of wildfire.
“PG&E was already working to meet new state vegetation and fire safety standards, which require a clearance of 4 feet around power lines in high fire threat areas with recommended minimum clearances of 12 feet or more at time of trim to ensure compliance year-round,” says Boyles.
“Our accelerated wildfire vegetation management work addresses overhanging branches or limbs, which have the potential to come into contact with power lines, by ensuring conductor-to-sky 12-foot clearance.”
Boyles says they are continuing to partner with customers in extreme fire-threat areas to create fire defense zones by reducing vegetation below and near power lines that could act as fuel in a wildfire, as an added layer of protection and to enhance defensible space.
PG&E expects this work to take place between now and the end of the 2018 wildfire season.
Customers can call 877-295-4949 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.