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How One Utility Responded to the California Wildfires

December 18, 2017

Photo courtesy of SDG&E
Photo courtesy of SDG&E

With wildfires spreading across the Southern California region, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has mobilized its resources to assist local firefighting agencies.

SDG&E has contracted with the Erickson Aircrane, a helitanker equivalent to the capacity of five fire engines, for the last eight years during high fire season (which ended in November). It will remain stationed in the region for the next few weeks.

The utility was able to obtain and deploy the helitanker in coordination with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) to fight the Lilac fire just north of San Diego. The Aircrane is capable of releasing 2,650 gallons of water or fire suppressant per drop, and made 20 water drops in one day, or 30,000 total gallons to support firefighting efforts.

The utility has also staged crews and contracted firefighters in areas where winds are forecast to be strongest; more than doubled the number of contract wildland fire-suppression trucks with trained firefighting personnel; proactively called 170,000 customers in affected areas to alert them of possible power outages; and worked with the American Red Cross to set up community centers for customers without power.

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