Press "Enter" to skip to content

PG&E Leaves Behind 100,000+ Felled Trees

More than a dozen fire-ravaged counties across Northern California are warning about the new fire threat posed by PG&E’s failure to remove more than 100,000 trees it cut during stepped-up efforts to ease the fire danger around its power lines.

Mark Amador, a resident of Lake Berryessa Estates, said he welcomed PG&E crews clearing trees from power lines in his neighborhood. But he says they left behind dozens of dying or dead trees, which are now a new fire threat. “I just was wondering why they haven’t completed the job,” he said.

“That’s a safety issue for the public and for the property owner,” said Amador’s neighbor Gary Stanley, pointing to one leaning tree that he says died after PG&E crews hacked off all its limbs. “What happens if he has visitors and that sucker falls on somebody’s head?”.

Stanley should know about the risk, having spent three decades cutting trees, including a six year stint supervising a contract crew clearing trees from PG&E lines. He says what PG&E contractors left in his neighborhood is inexcusable.

“That’s just plain lousy work — and there’s no oversight,” Stanley said. “They’ve got several different tree outfits that they use and nobody comes back to see if it was done right, because all these were supposed to have been removed.’’

In response to widespread complaints, more than a dozen counties across Northern California have teamed up to urge PG&E finish its vegetation management efforts by removing the dead trees and flammable debris left by crews clearing power lines.

One county, Butte – which was hit by a series of fires, including the massive 2018 Camp Fire – now faces the fire risk of felled trees left on the ground. Some the hardest hit areas include the towns of Cohasset and Magalia near where the Camp Fire struck.

Photos provided by local fire volunteers show dozens of downed trees near power lines, some they say have been on the ground for six months or more.

In a statement, PG&E says it’s removed 200,000 trees it cut in its vegetation management efforts. Last year, it met its wildfire safety goals and satisfied regulators.

But PG&E acknowledged it still has a backlog of some 115,000 trees earmarked to be removed. Part of the problem, it told the counties in a letter late last year, is that it halted vegetation management efforts briefly last summer so it could take stock and improve how it does the work.

The utility’s statement asserts safety is its “most important responsibility” and that it expects the backlog to be cleared by the end of this year, subject to weather conditions and permitting requirements.

But Cal Fire officials say the debris and felled trees PG&E has yet to remove are a legitimate hazard for residents.

“Those downed materials hopefully will be removed in the near future,” said Mike Marcucci, Cal Fire’s Napa area unit chief.

In some cases, he says, the wood left by PG&E crews has caused property owners to flunk fire inspections designed to assure they maintain a fire-safe buffer zone around their properties. Those residents, he said, want that wood removed as soon as possible.

“I know the county….is working with PG&E and other stakeholders to try to make that happen and expedite that process.”

Napa County Supervisor Anne Cottrell, who was recently elected, said she is sympathetic about “how frustrating it must be for residents to have dead or dying trees in their yard” left by PG&E as they with another potentially deadly fire season looms. She has gotten involved in pushing PG&E to get the work done – but she acknowledges the effort “is a work in progress.”

Amador says PG&E officials have repeatedly assured him and other Lake Berryessa residents it will clear the dead and dying trees near homes. But some of the work has languished for more than two and a half years.

Meanwhile, residents have to live with risk from the dead and dying trees. “This tree is leaning over — it’s going to hit this house,” Amador said as he stood near one of the delimbed tree left by PG&E crews.

Source: NBC Bay Area

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    %d bloggers like this: