News Release

PG&E to dispatch helicopters to monitor wildfire risk

Foresters will fly between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and as low as 200 feet in elevation along powerlines.

Information provided by PG&E 


PG&E announced that as part of its ongoing response to the state’s drought conditions and to identify trees that could cause a wildfire or power outage, it is conducting aerial patrols in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. Flights began Sept. 13, and go through Sept. 16.

The release said PG&E will patrol by foot and helicopter along transmission and distribution powerlines in high fire-threat areas to identify trees that are dead or have become structurally compromised. It added that factors such as years of drought, current dry conditions, increased wildfire risk or Sudden Oak Death may be contributing to more dead, diseased, dying or defective trees have been seen during patrols.

The release said depending on the weather conditions, foresters will fly between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. as low as 200 feet in elevation along powerlines. Helicopters could reach higher elevations in areas where livestock is present. If determined necessary by a spotter from the helicopters, PG&E will send ground crews to conduct further inspections.

It added that aerial patrols are one of the many ways PG&E is working to manage trees and other vegetation located near powerlines that could create a safety risk. PG&E said it inspects approximately 100,000 miles of overhead powerlines every year, with some locations patrolled multiple times a year.

“We have had several years of well below normal precipitation and most of California is currently in ‘severe’ to ‘extreme’ drought conditions,” said Richard Bagley, PG&E Senior Meteorologist. “If you take away a couple wet years like 2016-17, six of the past nine years have experienced below average precipitation. That is where it becomes more of a compounding problem as far as tree health.”

If customers have questions or concerns about the work, they can call PG&E vegetation management supervisor, David Perry, at 805-459-0927.

BenitoLink Staff