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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Operation Santa Ana Begins

For the 11th consecutive year, the CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit and Southern California Edison are partnering to reduce the threat of wildland fires caused by power line and power pole failures. This program is also conducted by other CAL FIRE units and fire departments in Southern California. Operation Santa Ana began in 2000 as a way to reduce vegetation fires that were caused when nature and electricity combined. These fires were caused by winds blowing tree limbs into the power lines, equipment failures that showered the ground with sparks igniting dry vegetation nearby, or faulty equipment that needed to be repaired or replaced.
Every year, CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Fire Prevention Officers team up with members of Edison to perform visual inspections of more than 5,000 power poles in San Bernardino County where CAL FIRE is responsible for fire protection. The two person teams patrol the lines looking for anything that could pose a fire hazard. The teams are checking to see that the clearance mandates of the Public Resources Code, sections 4292 and 4293 have had their annual compliance. PRC 4292 calls for a ground clearance of ten feet around the base and eight feet above the ground of power poles that contain equipment that could result in sparking if it failed. PRC 4293 says that vegetation needs to be a minimum of four feet away from high voltage lines. That means from beneath, the side, or above.

The program which began yesterday is expected to complete the first round of inspections by mid-September, just in time for the return of the Santa Ana winds. Re-inspections for any deficiencies that were reported during the first inspections are expected to be completed by the beginning of October. Since Operation Santa Ana began, there have been no large and damaging fires caused by power line or power pole failures in the San Bernardino County areas protected by CAL FIRE