Chelan PUD’s most important responsibility is protecting the safety of the communities we serve. While we remain dedicated to reliability, the growing threat of catastrophic wildfire in Chelan County is real. That’s why we are starting to develop a plan to prevent our electrical equipment from causing a fire during extreme weather conditions. It’s called a Fire Safety Outage, and it’s a measure of last resort when public safety is threatened.
PUD fire mitigation strategies include trimming hazard trees near power lines.
What is a Fire Safety Outage?
A fire safety outage is a proactive power outage designed to prevent wildfire ignitions from utility infrastructure. We are working closely with local fire districts and emergency responders to develop a plan that includes coordinated response, early and often communication, and seeks to address any adverse impacts.
Fire damage to Chelan PUD transmission poles.
Why Fire Safety Outages?
- Of the 10 most destructive fires on the West Coast in the last 30 years, half were caused by electrical equipment.
- Most of the pilot area for fire safety outage management – including Plain, Lake Wenatchee and upper Chumstick Highway, was rated “very high risk” for fire in the 2019 Chelan County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
- Of the 25 most exposed communities to wildfire, the Leavenworth area was listed as the #1 most at risk, according to a U.S. Forest Service Study.
- Chelan PUD commissioned studies of its transmission and distribution lines in 2017 and 2020. Both studies showed that the Lake Wenatchee/Plain area is most at-risk for wildfire due to the concentration of trees, overhead lines, and structures.