Pacific Power hosts first of many meetings in S.O.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Pacific Power held their first meeting on Tuesday night to share with the public their plan to prevent a wildfire from starting because of utilities.

Tuesday night the utility company introduced to the public several new practices aimed at reducing fire risk but the hot topic was the possibility of power being completely shut off in the event of an emergency.

“I wanted to get some more information on how often they might think of turning the power off,” Stan Burghardt, Grants Pass resident, said.

Burghardt and many others who live in rural parts of Grants Pass are concerned about the potential of them losing power.

“Do you have that insurance that you’re going to have power back on in a certain time,” Dennis Provolt, Grants Pass resident, asked.

At the beginning of the year, Pacific Power announced it would create a fire mitigation plan.

Their goal is to keep a situation like the devasting fire in Paradise from happening here in Southern Oregon.

The Camp Fire, which wiped out the town of Paradise, is believed to have started due to a power equipment failure last year.

“Our wildfire mitigation plan is really pretty intensive,” Christina Kruger, Regional Manager of Pacific Power, said. “It includes things like vegetation management, adding weather stations and additional training for our employees.”

The plan also includes cutting the power off to homes in the event of an emergency which Kruger says only happens in extreme circumstances and on rare occasion.

Still, some people like Burghardt aren’t convinced.

“I just think it’s going to be really hard for a lot of people to get by.”

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, several fires were started this year due to do power lines in Josephine County.

That’s why ODF says what Pacific Power is trying to do is important to preventing wildfires.

“There were a couple of different fires last year that had power line problems in the beginning and they grew to be very large so its something we take very seriously,” Natalie Weber, Oregon Department of Forestry, said.

Pacific Power will be hosting two other public meetings.

The second is at 5:30 P.M. Wednesday, July 10th in Roseburg at Cascade Hall.

The last meeting is also at 5:30 P.M. on Thursday, July 11th in Medford at the Ramada Hotel.

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Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”
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