MENDOCINO CO., 6/27/17 — After several years of drought, California now has numerous dead trees throughout the state, increasing the risks of large wildfires as summer gets underway. PG&E will be conducting low-flying aerial patrols around Mendocino on June 28 and 29 to identify dead tree hazards and survey power lines for fire season, as part of an extra effort to prevent wildfires this year. The company will be surveying 73,000 miles of power lines twice this year, using helicopters for about 10,750 miles of lines surveyed.
Today, PG&E choppers are surveying the county in a green and white helicopter and "crews are checking the poles and equipment along our distribution lines to ensure electric reliability," PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras wrote in an email. "They flew over Ukiah and most of Mendo and parts of Lake County and will end along the coast," she wrote.
Beginning Wednesday, June 28, contract helicopters will start from Ukiah and survey communities in inland Mendocino along Highway 101, communities along the coast on Highway 1, and also parts of Lake County along Highways 29 and 53. The helicopters should be either blue and white or black and white, according to Contreras. Flights may reach as low as 200 - 300 feet; if dead trees are found, PG&E inspectors will be sent to the location on foot to verify the findings.
Here's the details:
Depending on clear weather conditions, the helicopter will leave the Ukiah Municipal Airport and fly between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. During the flights on June 28, the surveyor will inspect trees along Highway 101 over the towns of Ukiah and Potter Valley and over the communities of Talmage and El Roble.
During the flights on June 29, the surveyor will inspect trees along Highway 1 over the towns of Point Arena and Manchester and the communities of Flumeville and Stronetta. The flight will also include Lake County along Highways 29 and 53 over the towns of Lower Lake, Clearlake and Hidden Valley Lake.
PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters over the area to inspect trees. Patrolling by air allows the company to cover many miles quickly and efficiently, and reduces impacts on the ground. Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low – about 200 to 300 feet – along distribution power lines, and higher in areas where livestock are present.
If patrols identify dead trees, PG&E will send inspectors on foot to verify a tree is dead, and then contact the home or land owner to schedule removal.
Kate B. Maxwell, [email protected]