As California Burns, Costs Trump Safety

By: David L. Huard
– Daily Journal

Wildfires in the West, and particularly in California, have been a recurring story as the severe drought has made the area even more susceptible to major fire events. Most recently the Blue Cut fire in Southern California forced the evacuation of 80,000 people, destroyed over 100 homes as well as more than 200 structures and threatened a major electric transmission line serving Southern California.

Utility operations have been identified as a cause of California wildfires. When a utility pole falls to the ground or comes into contact with vegetation, an ignition spark, in dry brush, quickly grows into a catastrophic blaze. Utility poles in California are owned by electrical utilities but over three-quarters of these poles are subject to joint use arrangements with communication companies. It is estimated that of these poles, at least one-quarter fail to comply with existing safety standards and such unsafe utility equipment can lead to wildfires.

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