Few coast residents can forget last year’s freakish windstorm that roared out of the east, and the devastating fires and smoke it caused. Power lines came crashing down under trees unable to stand up to the high winds.
Our crews tackled every outage wearing masks filtering out the worst smoke particles, but it was hard to breathe the yellow-orange air, and even while wearing goggles, the smoke constantly irritated their eyes.
This past winter and early spring, many of our employees worked hard to prepare Central Lincoln for another wildfire season. With summer forecasts predicting another season of hotter temperatures and continued drought, the coast could be at risk for more serious wildfires this year.
To meet this challenge, Central Lincoln’s board of directors last month adopted a comprehensive plan developed by our team to guide operations during wildfire season.
Our engineering department has programmed automated equipment with settings that can reduce potential sparks when weather and forest conditions are at high wildfire hazard levels. We also mowed more frequently this past winter under transmission lines and along access roads to reduce the buildup of vegetation.
Central Lincoln added a third full-time tree crew this past year, creating new jobs, and has signed a year-long contract with a tree trimming company to provide three additional tree crews. Tree trimming has been completed at five of our substations, clearing brush and trees away from fencing, protecting electrical facilities, with more substation work on our calendar. This spring, a drone was used to perform infrared inspections to look for any hot spots at our substations.
“A lot of work has gone into getting us ready for the coming fire season, and more is ahead,” says Central Lincoln’s General Manager Randy Grove. “Our new wildfire mitigation plan is guiding our work for this fire season and future seasons. We are doing what we can to make our system less vulnerable to fire. This year’s wildfire potential makes it clear our customers should also look at what they can do to protect themselves—and their homes and businesses, too.”
Oregon State University’s Extension Service has launched an online video series, Fire Aware. Be Prepare.