Friday, September 29, 2017


“Smoke can cause line to ground arcing and can cause new fires or electrocution. It is common practice to back firefighters well away from transmission lines where active fire is occurring. These defensible tactics often allow a fire to increase in size… “Direct” action is safer and more effective, but not advised under energized transmission lines with a smoky fire. Likewise… aerial firefighting assets [must] avoid dropping retardant or water on transmission lines. Again, this can allow a fire to grow unchecked.” 
—Thomas Porter, CAL FIRE Comments on Sunrise Powerlink Draft EIR 

"Presence of the overhead transmission line reduces the effectiveness of firefighting."
(Class I Impact = MOST serious. Risk cannot be completely eliminated.)

In Alpine the Powerlink runs UNDERGROUND— protecting its 7,000 homes and homes in downwind communities from fire.  A fire headed to Alpine can be fought by ground crews and aircrafts without danger of electrocution or overhead lines that prevent an air attack. 

However, in Deerhorn ground crews and aircraft cannot fight fire directly near the Powerlink; they must wait until it passes —right into Deerhorn.  Even a small delay in an otherwise controllable fire can allow it expand and become catastrophic.  The 2007 Harris Fire was such a fire.  It will happen again.

As a condition of approving the Powerlink, SDG&E agreed to deposit approximately $3million yearly for Homeowner Defensible Space Grants — where lines are OVERHEAD.  This is still only a partial mitigation for our increased danger.  They deposits are for the life of the Powerlink (58 years) 

So we don't really understand why thousands of homes like these are eligible for defensible space grants.  They are even getting Community Protection funds (same pot of money).  When Deerhorn tried to apply for funds to clear roads, we were told that every homeowner along the road was required to give up their own personal grant.  That made little sense for a parcel with 50-100ft of roadside.  

Simply put, the grants were never intended for areas with UNDERGROUND lines. Alpine seems to be having its Grants Cake and eating it too.  Perhaps that is the advantage of having a voting member on the SPFMG. That member said he "fought" to have all Alpine included (because it wasn't originally!) Must be nice for Alpine to have such an powerful presence on the SPFMG. 
BELOW are a few of the 12,000 homes SPFMG added to Defensible Space Grants in Year One (2012). These homes are not even required to have defensible space.  BUT they can apply for  tens of thousands of $ for Community Protection grants to clean up Open Space Parks, rehabilitate Creeks, and other projects that are not considered Homeowner Defensible Space.

SPFMG made thousands of Alpine homes eligible, even though SDG&E refused to contribute funds for them because... 
"Underground transmission lines do not have the capacity to result in long-term operational wildfire ignitions, and project fireshed boundaries did not attempt to encompass underground portions of the project."

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