MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has extended its daily aerial smoke detection patrols in portions of its service area an additional two weeks, including on the Central Coast.
PG&E launched the patrols in June to help the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response during the highest-fire risk months. Early detection of smoke or fire allows fire agencies to quickly respond to accurate locations.
PG&E says they will continue operating fixed-wing aircraft to spot smoke along two routes, from Auburn to Auberry in the Central Sierra, and Vacaville to Solvang through Nov. 15. The company extended flights in these areas that have not received significant rain and remain dry. The Vacaville to Solvang route will cover San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.
“PG&E is focused on public safety and reducing the wildfire risk in California. In addition to the work we do every day on the ground to ensure our infrastructure is operating safely, our aerial patrols will continue to help fire agencies identify and respond to potential fires where dry conditions still exist,” said Pat Hogan, senior vice president of electric operations at PG&E.
All flights were previously scheduled to conclude on Oct. 31. The company uses fixed-wing aircraft to fly four routes and contributed funding to the Mendocino County Aerial Patrol Co-Operative for a fifth route over Mendocino County.
In addition to its daily aerial smoke patrols, PG&E is committed to reducing the risk of wildfire caused by the historic drought, bark beetle infestation and other environmental impacts as part of its tree mortality emergency response.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 100 million trees have died in California since 2010. Homeowners can reduce risk by removing dead trees on their property and properly maintaining healthy trees by pruning and watering as necessary.