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New PG&E Base Camps Aimed At Cutting Fire Danger In Mountain Communities

AMADOR COUNTY (CBS13) — New base camps for PG&E tree-trimming crews are popping up in some northern California mountain communities with the highest wildfire danger.

It's part of a first-time strategy to prevent powerline-sparked wildfires in California's new extreme fire conditions.

The community of Pioneer in Amador County now has a PG&E tree-trimming base camp off of Highway 88, where hundreds of PG&E contracted tree-cutters are being hired to trim or remove trees along thousands of miles of PG&E power lines.

"The crews that come to this camp, are all tree crews, certified tree crews that are able to do work near and around our power lines," PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Merlo said.

There are nine PG&E base camps like the one in Amador County across northern California.

Don and Nancy Leach live in the community of Pine Grove and are always in fear of the next big wildfire.

"It's on your mind all the time," Don Leach said.

PG&E identified and cut down several trees that were close to power lines on their property.

"They obviously have to become proactive," Nancy Leach said. "Because being reactive in the past just hasn't worked. And lots of people have lost their properties and their livelihoods."

The new effort by PG&E comes following the deadly 2015 Butte Fire in Amador County. Cal Fire determined the fire was sparked by PG&E power lines hitting a tree. A judge found the utility liable.

New PG&E tree-trimming base camps are serving wildfire-prone communities, taking a proactive approach before a disaster response is required.

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