Fire Safety Outage Background

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 developed a plan to prevent our electrical equipment from causing a fire during extreme weather conditions defined by high winds and dry fuel loads. It’s called a Fire Safety Outage, and it’s a measure of last resort when public safety is threatened. 

What is a Fire Safety Outage?

A fire safety outage is a proactive power outage designed to prevent wildfire ignitions from utility infrastructure. We worked closely with local fire districts, emergency responders and local organizations to review this plan, ensure a coordinated response and to address any adverse impacts.

The decision to use a fire safety outage is one we take very seriously. We recognize the devastation that wildfires can have on a community, and we recognize the impact on our customers when power is out. Our first line of defense is to increase tree-trimming, inspect more frequently, fire-hardening our lines, and other preventative actions. A fire safety outage is a rarely used measure of last resort.

Photo of fire damage to PUD transmission lines

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.

Public Outreach

Chelan PUD has partnered with local fire districts, emergency responders and community organizations to develop the Fire Safety Outage Management Plan and share this information with the community. Public outreach events included:

  • March 2021: Expert Working Group meetings
  • May 12, 2021: Lake Wenatchee Fire & Rescue Auxiliary presentation
  • May 29, 2021: Lake Wenatchee Safety Day with Cascadia Conservation District
  • June 1, 2021: Chumstick Stewardship Coalition public workshop
  • June 4, 2021: Mailer and email to Phase 1 customers
  • June 10 & 11, 2021: "Coffee with Bob" with Commissioner Bob Bugert 
  • July 14, 2021: River Road Firewise meeting
  • July 17, 2021: Town Hall Meeting at Lake Wenatchee Rec Club

PUD staff hand out materials about fire safety outages at an outreach event. 

Photo of fire retardant paint on PUD transmission poles

Fire retardant paint on transmission poles helps reduce impacts from brush fires.

Chelan PUD's Fire Mitigation Program also includes:

  • Increased tree-trimming & brush removal
  • Fire-retardant treatments
  • Steel poles or undergrounding where feasible
  • Increased inspections during fire season
  • Coordination with local agencies
  • Refurbishments & replacements of aging infrastructure
  • Increasing the sensitivity of fire protection systems


For more information about fire safety outages, visit our Fire Safety Outage page or our Frequently Asked Questions page for the answers to some of your questions. Here are more resources to help you prepare for fire season. 

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