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
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.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E
Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas
and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San
Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of
the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and
Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/
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