By actively reporting danger trees to local utility companies, you can help prevent the occurrence of devastating wildfires.
DOF has responded to 202 power line fires totaling 10,116 acres since 2014. Most of these wildfires were contained at a relatively small size of three acres or less, with the majority around one half acre. However, three significant power line caused wildfires include the 2014 Tyonek Fire (1,906 ac), 2015 Twin Creeks Fire (4,862 ac) and the 2019 McKinley Fire (3,288 ac). With high winds possible at any time during the wildfire season, fire managers are urging Alaskans to report danger trees on their properties and in their neighborhoods to the local power companies.
Fire managers also remind Alaskans who have a Small Scale DOF burn permit that regulations require your fire to be at least 30 feet from residential power lines. If there are larger power lines near you, the minimum safe distance from your burn begins at 75 feet. The minimum safe distance from the largest scale transmission lines is 150 feet. If you have any doubts about the classifications of power lines, contact your local utility provider.
The Importance of Reporting Danger Trees: Prevention is the key to mitigating the risks posed by trees hitting power utility lines. Local utility companies cannot identify every potential hazard tree on their own. This is where the proactive participation of Alaskans becomes crucial. Alaska’s significant wind events, coupled with old or diseased trees, increase the likelihood of branches or entire trees falling onto power lines, triggering catastrophic wildfires. By reporting danger trees on private property and in local neighborhoods to the utility companies, we can collectively address this threat more effectively.
Power companies have implemented initiatives to engage and involve citizens in reporting such trees. To facilitate the reporting of hazard trees, these companies have established dedicated phone lines and/or web based forms. This is an example of a power company in Alaska offering a “Danger Tree Reporting Page”. By contacting power companies, individuals can alert the utility about potential hazards, prompting a response from a crew to address the situation. If you observe a tree touching an overhead line, do not touch the tree or try to move it yourself as it may be energized. Contact your power company as soon as possible so that their specialized crews can respond.
Taking Action: To report danger trees in your area, reach out to your local utility company or power service provider. They will have the expertise to assess the situation and take appropriate action. It is essential to provide specific details about the location, condition, and potential risk posed by the identified trees. You may be asked to mark the tree with flagging, and the company will likely provide an estimated time for service. In certain cases, local utility companies have a back log of danger trees to cut and are constantly working to prioritize immediate concerns.
In addition to reporting, property owners can play a role in maintaining tree health and reducing risks. Regular inspections by qualified arborists or tree care professionals can identify potential dangers before they escalate. Prompt removal or trimming of danger trees can significantly mitigate the risk of wildfires caused by tree-to-power-line contact. If you have questions or concerns, or would like to speak to an arborist or forestry specialist. contact your local DOF forestry office or your local government office.
Categories: AK Fire Info, Alaska DNR - Division of Forestry (DOF), Fire Prevention, Firewise