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Rocky Mountain Power working to prevent power-related wildfires

Posted at 9:02 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 00:39:24-04

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — After a small fire in Davis County sparked Sunday afternoon, it was quickly assumed that a downed power line was the culprit.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Shepard Fire was mapped by helicopter on Monday at 12 acres with no containment.

“We can have fires right now just because it hasn’t really greened up on the hill yet, so we have all that dead grass and dead oak brush," said Kim Osborn, Public Information Officer with the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire crept along the hillside above the City of Farmington, slowly moving along the canyon below Shepard Peak. No homes or other structures are threatened.

Initially, six Rocky Mountain Power customers were without power as power crews de-energized lines in the area. On Monday, Rocky Mountain Power repaired those lines. Specifics pertaining to the downed power line have not been made available.

“Our maintenance and vegetation management systems operate year around. We’re very focused on those things and we recognize that they are key to both customer reliability and safety in fire season," said David Eskelsen with Rocky Mountain Power regarding the company's Wildland Fire Prepardness Program. “We have inspected more than 20,000 additional locations in addition to our regular year-round vegetation management program.”

With other Western states experiencing catastrophic wildfires stemming from power line issues or transmission failures, RMP continues to use new technology to strengthen lines to prevent wire arcing.

“The incidents in California and other places have really focused the attention of utilities on this issue," said Eskelsen. “Our planning for the wildland customer interface is a little bit new, and we are working closely with fire officials on making sure we understand when the fire risk is high.”

Both state and federal firefighters will be working on the Shepard Fire beginning Tuesday morning with the assistance of an ordered helicopter.

In addition to year-round maintenance, Rocky Mountain Power works to reduce wildfire risk by pruning more than 270,000 trees along their lines each year. They work to remove additional vegetation and add more fire breaks.

To learn more about Rocky Mountain Power's approach to wildfire prevention, click here.