Pacific Power working with local public safety agencies to get ahead of fire season

MEDFORD, Ore. — Pacific Power is working with local governments and other public safety agencies to get ahead of fire season.

The company is working with local emergency responders, the Oregon Department of Forestry and other community leaders across Oregon to expand its emergency response plans. Pacific Power first met with local agencies last month on its proposed wildfire mitigation plan.

Last fall, California utility company PG&E, caused the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century, the Camp Fire.

“We recognize just like our community that wildfires are becoming more frequent and so we believe that this is the right thing to do to keep our communities safe,” Christina Kruger, Pacific Power Regional Business Manager for Jackson and Josephine Counties, said.

Pacific power is developing a plan that would increase weather monitoring and trimming vegetation around power lines.  The plan includes shutting off power during extreme weather conditions, if necessary. Similar shutoffs are already used in other states to prevent power lines from causing fires.

“We all noticed what happened in Paradise and so that really drew our attention and if we can do anything to keep our communities we are going to do it,” Kruger said.

Pacific power is now reaching out and scheduling meetings with local government leaders and emergency agencies.

“Essentially prepare for any scenario that we can and especially with the heat as you’ve seen the heat the last couple days, what would that impact be if all of a sudden the power was out and you don’t have an air conditioner or you don’t have access to a cooling spot,” Lily Morgan, Josephine County Commissioner, said.

Pacific Power said a safety power shutoff would be the last resort.

The company says it’s still developing plans and will have more information within the next two weeks.

“We’re still in the development phases so we’re meeting with those partners to identify those blind spots so we have a good plan, and once that plans ready to go, we’re going to let our community know,” Kruger said.

Pacific Power is launching a public wildfire education and outreach campaign starting June 24 to share wildfire safety and prevention tips and to inform customers of the company’s Public Safety Power Shutoff measure. This will include public information workshops for communities in high-risk areas.

Customers are encouraged to do their part by keeping a defensible space around their homes and by being prepared with emergency plans and supplies.

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