Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Power outages may put too much emphasis on one cause of wildfire

UCCE advisors Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffrey Stackhouse at a prescribed burn in Humboldt County.
While many California communities have been left without power, UC Cooperative Extension fire scientist Lenya Quinn-Davidson worries that last year's Camp Fire has put too much focus on utility companies as the cause of fires, reported Tara Law in TIME.

Major fires are sometimes caused by utilities, but there are many other potential causes, including lightning, arson and sparks from dragging chains. All of these factors, are compounded by "lack of fuel management, poor land-use planning, and homes that aren't ready for fire and aren't resilient to fire," Quinn-Davidson said.

Power outages can complicate response and evacuation efforts should a fire break out, Quinn-Davidson said. Phone lines have been jammed during this week's outages and people have had trouble communicating with loved ones.

“If a fire starts because of other causes — which could easily happen under severe conditions — now we have no way to communicate,” she told the TIME reporter. “Seriously, like, if this power outage happened when the Carr Fire (sparked by a vehicle) happened — how would you evacuate people? That's completely possible. You could have a power outage and have a fire start from a roadside cigarette. Or arson. Or anything. And then what?” 

The TIME article also quoted Jeffrey Stackhouse, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, about the sweeping power outages.

“People are freaking out around here,” he said.

Nevertheless, Stackhouse and Quinn-Davidson agree that scheduled power outages shouldn't be eliminated as a tool for preventing fires. They believe outages should be used sparingly, and in conjunction with preventative measures, such as fire-proofing homes and managing land.

“The disruption is pretty huge for something we're not sure is going to prevent a major wildfire. The actual likelihood of that event was not equal to the impact that this is having,” Quinn-Davidson said.

Read about Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse's efforts to improve fire resilience in Humboldt County by establishing a prescribed burn association.

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2019 at 8:28 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

No Comments Posted.

Leave a Reply

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now! Anonymously contributed messages may be delayed.




Security Code:
WOKLBK
:

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: kmchurchill@ucanr.edu