First responders prepare for high fire danger, power shutoff

First responders prepare for high fire danger power shutoff

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. - Fire departments in Santa Cruz County are on a heightened alert Wednesday night with dry conditions and, in some places, windy weather creating a dangerous combination for fires.

During the power shutoffs firefighters will be on patrol. Crews will monitor the areas they say are at the highest risk of a fire.

“When we have extreme winds come through and it starts touching onto the trees, onto the power lines, if they are still energized that’s obviously a concern for us,” said Fire Chief Steven Hall with the Central Fire Protection District of Santa Cruz County.

In the last few months, fire departments have been cleaning up–clearing roads and power lines of debris most likely to spark. 

Chief Hall said his crews job is to be out on patrol during the power shutoffs. 

“Their primary job through this event is to go on more of a patrol mode should something break out. We have five engines throughout the county that can jump on that call relatively quick,” Hall said

Canyons up north and homes in wild land are their biggest concern. 

“if the power lines become de-energized and then re-energized and something were to happen, the potential for an ignition could occur, and our biggest concern is not only access into those areas but egress of the residents that live there,” Hall said.

Other first responders, like the Scotts Valley Police Department are prepared for the public safety power shutoff. They’ll run on generator power and called in extra personnel to make sure they can respond quickly to emergencies. Their main concern is traffic control.

“If the lights go out, we can’t have traffic control on every single light, but our main intersection, Scotts Valley Drive and Mt. Hermon, we’re looking at making that generator powered,” Scotts Valley Police Captain John Wilson.

If intersection stop lights go out or start flashing, remember to stop at the light before moving on.

Scotts Valley PD said people shouldn’t see a degradation of services because of the outage.

Some cities are concerned for crime in blackout areas, but Scotts Valley PD said they’re not really worried.

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