By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
With safety in mind, La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) continues to ensure that electrical equipment damage or repair efforts don’t contribute to fire danger.
“Safety is a number one priority for LPEA and our crews,” said Justin Talbot, manager of operations. “June is typical for us to start enforcing pro-active fire safety measures. What this may mean is that, with our safety steps and checks, in the event of an outage, it will take us a little longer to restore power and we hope our members will understand.”
At a location where line/equipment damage has prompted an outage, linemen will do extra patrols of the affected section of line to make certain no other flammable objects are touching the electrical equipment. Only then, will the all-clear be given and the line re-energized. The linemen will then remain at the location to ensure no embers are smoldering.
“These steps will lengthen our response time just a little, for precautionary purposes, which could be very important if a fire has been sparked,” said Talbot. “Also, all our vehicles are equipped with watering systems to douse any sparked fires.”
LPEA has line personnel on standby throughout the night — one journeyman lineman each in Durango, Bayfield/Ignacio and Pagosa Springs. In the event of more serious conditions, additional line personnel will be called to an outage location.
“We coordinate closely with county emergency personnel so we can be ready and in place if a fire approaches our electrical system, such as a distribution line, transmission line or substation,” said Talbot.
“We’re also asking our customers to be aware — be our eyes,” said Toby Allred, line superintendent. “If you’ve got an outage, go outside and survey your property, as well as your neighbors’, for downed power lines, smoke or a visible fire.
LPEA advises, if members notice any indication of fire, call 9-1-1 immediately — then call LPEA at 247-5786 and stay away from all downed powerlines.
“And customers living in wooded areas, look up,” added Allred. “Look at the trees that are near the electrical lines. If you notice large branches that could potentially fall through the lines on a windy day, or a dead tree in the right-of-way, give us a call. We will come check it out and if it is a potential hazard, we can take care of it.”