Power line fuel reductions project adds fire breaks for Caldor Fire

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:07 PM PDT
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STATELINE, Nev. (KOLO) -As wildfires have grown in recent years, state officials and NV Energy have both been thinking more in proactive terms. That’s led to the utility aggressively reducing potential fuels beneath its power lines in a number of areas, assembling crews of firefighters and even hiring goats to do the job.

SB508--passed by the 2019 legislature took it further, spending $5 million dollars to set up a public-private partnership to keep the effort going.

Last week some of that work stood as a last defense as the Caldor Fire moved toward Nevada. Today the governor got a first-hand look at what had been done.

STORY: Caldor Fire coverage

On the mountainside above Stateline, crews were continuing to clear the forest of potential ladder fuels along a power line. The downed tree they were cutting up could have helped this fire--or others to follow--to move into the dense timber on either side or the neighborhood next door.

They’d been doing this work at various locations long before the Caldor Fire had started, but its advance gave the effort more urgency.

Tahoe wasn’t the only area of concern. Over the hill along a power line and road on the west side of Carson Valley, there’s a freshly cut fire break ordered up as the fire moved in this direction.

“We changed out priorities,” said NV Energy’s Fire Chief Mark Regan, “pulled our crews that we have across the state of Nevada doing this kind of fuels work, pulled them to this area. We were able to execute more than 25 miles of line work of fuel breaks.”

The fire didn’t make it to those new fire breaks. At the moment, for instance, it’s about three miles from Carson Valley, but for a time last week, this area was under an evacuation warning. This break could have made a big difference.

Sisolak, who viewed the work in both locations Friday, came away impressed and committed. “It’s really important that we don’t stop. We need to continue this even when we’re not facing a fire at that particular time. This kind of proactive work needs to continue on an annual basis.”

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