Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has joined forces with local Fire Safe Councils and other 501(c)(3) organizations across Northern and Central California to enhance the safety and preparedness of local communities in connection with the 2020 wildfire season. PG&E is providing $2.3 million to fund the organizations’ projects across 28 counties to reduce the threat of wildfires and help keep communities safe. This includes $79,000 to Fire Safe Sonoma and $52,000 to Bennett Ridge Fire Safety Organization.
“The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is PG&E’s most important responsibility and we are once again committed to supporting local wildfire prevention efforts in the North Bay. This collaboration among PG&E and local Fire Safe Councils will help the communities we serve prevent and prepare for wildfires,” said Joe Horak, senior manager of PG&E’s Sonoma Division.
The Bennett Ridge Fire Safety Organization will use the money to clear access roads for ingress and egress. This includes pruning limbs and removing trees that are within fifteen to a hundred feet of overhead power lines along Old Bennett Ridge, Rollo, Bardy and Bennett Ridge Roads.
“When Bennett Ridge was hit by the 2017 Nuns Fire, many residents found themselves trapped by flames along the roads. Some escaped by cutting fences and driving through vineyards. Others were forced to shelter in place while the fire raged around them. The PG&E grants have helped the community remove flammable vegetation all along its roads and will improve safety and visibility should another fire hit,” said Helen Sedwick, Project Manager for the Bennett Ridge Fire Safety Organization.
On Fitch Mountain and rural Sonoma County, Fire Safe Sonoma is also clearing hazardous trees and shrubs along wildfire evacuation routes.
“We are grateful for the funds from PG&E because we are able to remove dangerous vegetative fuels along at least two miles of roadway in a high fire-threat area and near PG&E electrical assets,” said Roberta MacIntyre, President of Fire Safe Sonoma. “We are also now able to establish a home wildland fire safety assessments program where we’ll be able to visit about 20 homes this year, focusing on those within one-thousand feet of a PG&E line, and assess their fire risk,” added MacIntyre.
Since 2014, and including this year, PG&E will have provided $17 million to local Fire Safe Councils and 501(c)(3) organizations to fund more than 300 projects in Northern and Central California. Projects have included fuel reduction, shaded fuel breaks, emergency access and wood-chipping programs. This year, PG&E is providing funding to local councils and nonprofits to complete approximately 41 projects in 28 counties. Projects must be completed by November of this year.
Community Wildfire safety program
In addition to partnering with local Fire Safe Councils and 501(c)(3) organizations, PG&E is preparing for wildfires through its Community Wildfire Safety Program. The company launched the program in 2018 as an additional precautionary measure intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. Through the program, PG&E is bolstering wildfire prevention and emergency response efforts, putting in place new and enhanced safety measures, and doing more over the long term to harden its electric system to help reduce wildfire risks and to keep its customers safe.