PG&E Extends Aerial Smoke Patrols to Spot Wildfires, Speed Response and Keep Communities Safe
|Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) extended its daily aerial smoke detection patrols in portions of its service area an additional two weeks.
November 10, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) extended its daily aerial smoke detection patrols in portions of its service area an additional two weeks. PG&E launched the patrols in June to assist the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response during the highest-fire risk months. Early detection of smoke or fire allows fire agencies to quickly respond to accurate locations.
PG&E will continue operating fixed-wing aircraft to spot smoke along two routes, from Auburn to Auberry in the Central Sierra, and Vacaville to Solvang through Nov. 15. PG&E extended flights in these areas that have not received significant rain and remain dry.
“PG&E is focused on public safety and reducing the wildfire risk in California. In addition to the work we do every day on the ground to ensure our infrastructure is operating safely, our aerial patrols will continue to help fire agencies identify and respond to potential fires where dry conditions still exist,” said Pat Hogan, senior vice president of electric operations at PG&E.
All flights were previously scheduled to conclude on Oct. 31. The company uses fixed-wing aircraft to fly four routes and contributed funding to the Mendocino County Aerial Patrol Co-Operative for a fifth route over Mendocino County.
This is the fourth year of the program. From mid-June when the flights began through October 31, the patrols spotted a total of 218 fires and, in 21 instances, were the first to report the fire to CAL FIRE or the U.S. Forest Service. In 2017, nearly 3,350 hours of flight time have been recorded through October. The patrols flew during the last five hours of daylight, roughly from 3 p.m. until dusk – the time of day when wildfires are most likely to ignite because hot, dry weather is at its peak. Last year, fire spotters identified a total of 142 fires.
Tree Mortality Response
In addition to its daily aerial smoke patrols, PG&E is committed to reducing the risk of wildfire caused by the historic drought, bark beetle infestation and other environmental impacts as part of its tree mortality emergency response, including:
Increased foot and aerial patrols along power lines in high fire-risk areas to twice a year, and up to four times a year in some locations.
Conducted secondary patrols along 61 percent of miles of power lines in 2016 and expects to patrol 65 percent of miles of line a second time in 2017.
Removed approximately 236,000 additional dead or dying trees in 2016 and expects to remove approximately 150,000 additional dead trees in 2017
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 100 million trees have died in California since 2010. Homeowners can reduce risk by removing dead trees on their property and properly maintaining healthy trees by pruning and watering as necessary.
CAL FIRE Suspension of All Outdoor Burning Lifted
Morgan Hill – On October 13, 2017 CAL FIRE Bay Area Units suspended all outdoor burning due to weather conditions and the amount of fire suppression resources committed to the fires in Northern California. Effective November 1, 2017 this suspension is lifted within the State Responsibility Areas and any Local Responsibility Areas under CAL FIREContract in the following CAL FIRE Units or Contract County:
• Marin – Marin County
• San Mateo - Santa Cruz serving San Mateo, Santa Cruz counties
• Santa Clara - serving Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and areas west of I-5 in
Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties
• Sonoma-Lake-Napa - serving Sonoma, Lake, Napa and portions of Solano, Yolo, and
Permits to burn are still required. Contact your local jurisdiction about requirements for burn permits.
For more information on how you can help spare the air in the San Francisco Bay Area you can contact the Bay Area Air Quality Management District at 415-771-6000 orwww.baaqmd.gov. For information in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties contact the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District at 209-557-6400 or www.valleyair.org. ForSanta Cruz County you may call the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District at 831-647-9411 or www.mbuapcd.org.
CAL FIRE is asking residents to ensure that they are prepared for wildfires including maintaining a minimum of 100 feet of Defensible Space around every home.
Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning prescribed fire in the Mariposa Grove during the window of 4-14 of November, weather conditions permitting. We expect to have a few days of smoke associated with this burn.
The Mariposa Grove project includes two to three burn units that total under 200 acres.
Fire managers want to take advantage of the Mariposa Grove closure for a major restoration project to conduct the burn, minimizing impacts to public. Burning in the Mariposa Grove is a continuous process; the targeted areas have had 1-3 prescribed fires in the past 30 years, and continued burning is required to maintain healthy forest conditions. Fire produces the optimum conditions for Giant Sequoia regeneration. Fire not only removes the accumulated layers of dead woody debris exposing nutrient rich mineral soil, but fire is needed to dry the cones and allow the seeds to shed. In addition, by reducing the number of trees and undergrowth, wildfire opens up the forest canopy and reduces shade-tolerant competition.
Over 100 years of aggressive fire exclusion throughout the Sierra Nevada Range has dramatically altered forested ecosystems. Historically, natural fires burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping forest structure and creating important wildlife habitat. In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel have accumulated, putting many of Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in the Sierras prior to the exclusion of fire.
Additional fire management activity in Yosemite
Fuel reduction projects including thinning and piling in the Mariposa Grove and within the community of Wawona for hazard fuel reduction.
Pile burning throughout the park will be conducted after receiving precipitation and during permissive burn days.
* The Soupbowl prescribed burn project has been canceled.
Smoke may be present during the prescribed fire and in the Wawona area. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community. Prior to ignition, smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community and a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during active ignition of the project in order to reduce their exposure.
For additional Information: