The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in response to past devastating wildfires that were reportedly ignited by power lines, has adopted new fire maps that identify areas of California where there is an elevated hazard for the ignition and rapid spread of power line fires due to strong winds, abundant dry vegetation, and other environmental conditions. Together, these are the environmental conditions associated with the catastrophic power line fires that burned 334 square miles of Southern California in October 2007.
The map, known as Fire Map 1, was developed by a team of independent experts selected and led by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division and the many parties in the proceeding collaborated in the development of Fire Map 1.
Fire Map 1 will serve as the foundation for the development of Fire Map 2, which will delineate the boundaries of a new High Fire-Threat District where utility infrastructure and operations will be subject to stricter fire safety regulations. Importantly, the development of Fire Map 2 will address fire hazards associated with historical power line fires other than the October 2007 fires in Southern California. These other power line fires include the Butte Fire that burned 71,000 acres in Amador and Calaveras Counties in September 2015.
“The state must have accurate maps of high fire hazard areas in order to plan and deploy resources,” said Mike Florio, the commissioner assigned to the proceeding. “Fire Map 1 represents an important milestone in identifying areas that face a very high risk of a devastating wildfire. But our work is not done. We will start work promptly on Fire Map 2, which will delineate the boundaries for High Fire Threat Districts where stricter fire safety regulations will apply. ”
The proposal voted on is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M162/K368/162368185.PDF.
For more information about the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.