In this file:
· As summer heats up, Calif. utility starts cutting power to prevent wildfires
· Rancher Caused California’s Largest Wildfire
As summer heats up, Calif. utility starts cutting power to prevent wildfires
New "public safety power shutoffs" will be more common due to climate change.
Megan Geuss, Ars Technica
This weekend, one of California's largest utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)—elected to shut off power to customers in two counties as part of its newly expanded "Public Safety Power Shutoff" plan.
The plan was approved by California regulators in May as a way to minimize the risk of wildfire in Northern California. As climate change has made summers hotter and winter rain more unpredictable, PG&E's power lines sparked dangerous and destructive fires in 2017 and 2018. In recent years, California fires caused by power lines have burned millions of acres of land, razing homes and towns and killing residents who couldn't evacuate quickly enough.
In order to combat these fires, PG&E is proactively shutting down both distribution and transmission lines when conditions are dangerous enough. This weekend, hot, windy weather with low humidity resulted in power outages for 20,500 residents of Butte and Yuba counties, just west of the Tahoe and Plumas National Forests.
When lines are proactively shut down, they must be inspected before they can be reenergized, according to a Sunday press release from PG&E.
"Approximately 260 personnel must inspect approximately 800 miles of transmission and distribution lines as part of the restoration process, the equivalent distance from San Francisco to Seattle, Wash.," PG&E wrote. The utility continued...
Shutting off power to customers to prevent a wildfire comes as PG&E moves through chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, brought on by the billions of dollars that the utility will likely owe due to its infrastructure causing some of the most deadly wildfires in California's history. In May, Cal Fire investigators found that PG&E transmission lines were responsible for the 2018 Camp Fire that killed more than 80 people.
A number of brush fires started over the weekend as the Golden State experienced hot weather and low humidity. Although the state had a wet winter, wet winters can exacerbate wildfires in California if vegetation grows faster than normal and then extremely hot summer temperatures dry that overgrown vegetation out...
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Rancher Caused California’s Largest Wildfire
Greg Henderson, Drovers
June 7, 2019
Cal Fire has determined last year’s Ranch Fire, California’s largest in history, was ignited by a spark or hot metal fragment created by a Potter Valley rancher hammering a metal stake into the ground.
According to Cal Fire’s 20-page investigative report issued Thursday (June 6, 2019), the July 27 fire was caused by a rancher attempting to erect a shade cloth above some ground water tanks on his ranch because a previous shade had blown down and the water was too hot for his cattle.
The rancher – whose name was redacted from the report – told Cal Fire investigator Eric Bettger that he was preparing to put up the sun shade when he agitated an underground yellow jacket’s nest.
The rancher said he was allergic to bees, and he waited about an hour to allow the insects to stop swarming. He then used a claw hammer to quickly pound a 24-inch stake 10-to-12 inches into the ground. It was then he smelled smoke and realized the tall grasses nearby had begun to burn, the report said.
Despite the rancher’s frantic efforts to extinguish the fire, it continued to grow and quickly spread out of control. Cal Fire’s deputy director, Michael Mohler, told the Fresno Bee that incident was a “complete accident,” and that no charges will be filed.
The resulting fire...