Wildfires Burning Through Transmission Line Areas In CA

By Joe Maurath, Jr.; posted June 21, 2016

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This really looks like something right out of a modern-day sci-fi movie. However this rather scary image is the real deal and was taken on June 20, 2016 of a rather large wildfire in the hills east of Los Angeles, in Azusa. As you can see this fire is becoming precariously close to at least two rows of 138 or 230kv towers. Similar fires have burned down such vital high-voltage circuits elsewhere in the past. Transmission line owners shut off the lines in immediate danger and reroute the load (if possible) around the trouble spots and until repairs can be made. This sometimes is difficult to do if such other lines are already at capacity. From there, outages are the last resort...

The insulators upon these towers appear to be good ole porcelain and not polymer (great thing!). Their porcelain surfaces become very dirty after such scenarios and helicopter crews subsequently perform mid-air, high-pressure insulator washing so that the residue is removed as much as possible. Otherwise electrical leakage to ground and insulator flashovers/damage can occur.

Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel.