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SoCal Edison To Remove 11K Palm Trees Over Wildfire Risk

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In an effort to mitigate the threat of wildfires, utility giant Southern California Edison announced last week that it will remove 11,000 palm trees which are located too close to its power lines.

Silverado Fire
A palm tree burns in a residnetial area in the Silverado Fire October 26, 2020 in Irvine, California. - Some 60,000 people fled their homes near Los Angeles on October 26 as a fast-spreading wildfire raged across more than 7,200 acres (3,000 hectares), blocking key roadways and critically injuring two firefighters. The so-called Silverado Fire erupted early in the morning in the foothills of Irvine, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, and quickly spread with no containment, fueled by dry conditions and erratic winds that prevented firefighting aircraft from flying. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

SCE announced Friday that it will begin removing the palm trees in April. The process will take about two years.

Some cities that will see removals include Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, La Canada Flintridge, Malibu, Lake Elsinore and Santa Ana.

SCE says that removing the palm trees is significantly more effective that trimming them back.

"We are looking to remove these palms to avoid any fires or outages," SCE vegetation management and forestry manager Jon Pancoast said in a statement. "Trimming this species only stimulates growth, so it's best to remove this type of vegetation. State regulations require that all types of vegetation should be at least four feet away from power lines in high fire risk areas at all times. We make sure it doesn't grow back and touch a power line before we're able to schedule another inspection."

Palm trees that are located directly under or above power lines will be prioritized because falling fronds can cause outages and fires, SCE said.

SCE notified California state regulators that its equipment may have been to blame for sparking the Silverado Fire, which broke out east of Irvine in late October 2020, burning 13,400 acres and forcing more than 90,000 people to evacuate their homes.

RELATED: Firefighter Injured Battling Silverado Fire Released From Hospital After 17 Surgeries

Also last October, Ventura County fire investigators reported that the Easy and Maria fires, which broke out in October of 2019, were both caused by electrical equipment failures. In the Easy Fire, SCE equipment was to blame, officials said.

In November of 2019, while the Easy and Maria fires were still burning, SCE reached a $360 million settlement admitting that its equipment was also responsible for starting the 2017 Thomas Fire north of Santa Paula and the 2018 Woolsey Fire north of Simi Valley.

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