Posted on August 26, 2013

Tuolumne County: PG&E Works to Keep People Safe, Protect Equipment as Rim Fire Burns

PG&E’s Mobile Command Vehicle has been deployed at the Rim Fire Incident Command headquarters near Groveland off Highway 120. (Photo by James Green.)

Aug. 26. Update: As of 7 a.m., authorities reported that the Rim Fire had burned 149,780 acres and was 17 percent contained. PG&E continues working closely with Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to coordinate efforts and to ensure public, firefighter and PG&E employee safety. About 150 PG&E customers were without power as a result of the fire.

Here is the original story, posted on Friday afternoon (Aug. 23):

The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park had grown to more than 100,000 acres as of early this morning (Aug. 23). Tuolumne and Mariposa counties have declared emergencies.

Coordinated by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service, more than 2,000 personnel are fighting this fire. So far, the fire has burned more than 100,000 acres, threatened 4,500 structures, destroyed 16 structures and caused one injury.

“PG&E has established a local incident command team to coordinate with these agencies with a focus on keeping customers and firefighters safe as well as protecting essential facilities that could be in the path of the fire,” said Barry Anderson, PG&E’s interim vice president of emergency management.

Besides its electric crews and logistic personnel, PG&E has three of its Mobile Command Vehicles on site to assist the fire-fighting efforts, such as the printing hard copy maps of PG&E’s electric facilties.

A few hundred PG&E customers have been impacted either by the fire or by PG&E turning off their power at the request of Cal Fire to make an area safe for firefighters.

The Rim Fire as seen near the Groveland Ranger Station. (Photo by Cal Fire.)

In areas where the fire has passed through, PG&E crews have been inspecting company equipment. Vegetation management crews will be working to remove charred trees and limbs that are blocking access or could come in contact with electric lines and other parts of PG&E’s system.

Highway 120 into Yosemite National Park remains closed and several nearby roads also have been closed. Some local residents have been evacuated with the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora serving as an evacuation headquarters.

According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, two of the three powerhouses it owns that supply power to municipal facilities have been shut down due to the fire. The city says it is buying power on the open market to replace that power. The remainder of the city is powered by PG&E generation.

PG&E offers these safety tips to customers who live near this area:

  • Treat all downed power lines as if they are “live” or energized. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
  • Have the following items on hand: a battery-powered radio, flashlights, a first-aid kit, a supply of food or snacks that does not require cooking, and extra water.
  • Be prepared for a temporary outage. Have battery-operated flashlights and radios with fresh batteries ready. If you have a telephone that requires electricity to work such as a mobile phone, plan for alternate communication. Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator and freezer during an outage to prevent food from spoiling.

Cal Fire’s website offers frequently updated information about the Rim fire and efforts to contain it.

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