Over Labor Day weekend, we witnessed the Cameron Peak fire intensify becoming the fifth largest wildfire in Colorado history. During a phase of explosive growth, the fire worked its way into our service area causing damage to our lines and devastating damage to the property of some of our members. I was immediately taken back to 2012 when the High Park Fire blanketed more than 87,000 acres of our service territory.
As I write this article, fire officials have concerns that the fire may flare back up. I’m hoping by the time you read this the fire has been completely put out. Thankfully there has been no loss of life, then or now, and I know without the brave response from the first responders the destruction could have been much worse.
I am extremely proud of the way our employees once again jumped to action to get the power back on, where we could, as quickly and safely as possible. Our crews replaced 28 poles in just over 24 hours bringing power back to the upper Poudre Canyon along Highway 14.
On that note, we’re still assessing the damage from the Cameron Peak Fire, but we have a plan to ensure we can provide power when the area is opened. We have identified 90 additional poles that need to be replaced, which equates to more than 3.5 miles and we expect those numbers to grow. Our team also continues to work closely with fire officials to ensure the safety of our crews, fire personnel and our members.
PVREA takes the risk of wildfires seriously. We spend a great deal of time and money taking steps to mitigate the risk. While it’s impossible to limit the lightning strikes that sometimes ignite fires, PVREA is activity working to clear the trees near power lines to prevent them from falling into the lines during storms and other events. We also clear the brush and other vegetation under power lines to limit the fuel sources in the case of a downed power line. PVREA spends close to a million dollars annually to patrol lines in person or via a drone, make updates to our electric system, along with clearing trees and vegetation to mitigate the risk of wildfires.
Finally, rest assured we’re here, as always, to ensure all our members have access to safe and reliable electricity. Because with so many things to worry about after a fire, having electricity shouldn’t be one of them. That’s what being part of the cooperative family is all about. And together, we will power on.
President & CEO