News

Prevention pays off during Red Apple Road fire

by Rachel Hansen | Jul 21, 2021

As the Red Apple Fire raced toward the Andrew York Switchyard last Tuesday night, quick response from firefighters and a series of fire-hardening measures along powerlines helped Chelan PUD keep the lights on for its customer-owners.

For the last decade, Chelan PUD has been painting its high-risk power poles with fire-retardant paint and trimming vegetation around the lines to improve reliability. Crews recently cleared vegetation around power poles in the area.

“That has paid off very well,” John Stoll, managing director of customer utilities, told the board of commissioners Monday. (Starts at 01:43:39 on the board audio)

The fire burned to the switchyard fence, but the equipment remained relatively unscathed. A melted junction box created a short power outage, but power was restored within a half hour.

On Wednesday, high winds and dry fuels pushed flames higher in the Monitor area, which damaged two of the three transmission lines in the area – about 10 structures total. By re-routing power through other lines, Chelan PUD maintained service for customer-owners.

Two crews worked sun up to sun down to restore one of the lines Saturday. The remaining line will remain out of service while Chelan PUD makes arrangements to rebuild it with steel poles.

Chelan PUD also operates a water system in the Sunnyslope area, which maintained service to residents and supplied water for the firefighting efforts.

The fire caused minor damage to the fiber internet system. Less than 10 customer-owners lost internet.

“All in all, we came out of this fairly well,” Stoll said. “Certainly there was some impact, but we put some resources on it to fix what we needed to fix.”

In other news, commissioners:

  • Heard a report on about Chelan PUD’s efforts to reach out to customers who have outstanding balances on their bill. A state moratorium on disconnects and late fees is set to expire Sept. 30. (01:34:00)
  • Was updated on impacts of the heat wave, and the status of overall energy and water use in Chelan County. (00:19:00)

 

Upcoming events:

7/22, 6-8 p.m. – “Don’t let it loose!” A Red Barn event about invasive aquatic species with Wenatchee River Institute

8/2, 10 a.m. – PUD Board of Commissioners meeting

8/28, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. – Grand reopening, Rocky Reach Discovery Center

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