Bonneville Power Administration line crews from Pasco, Ellensburg and Grand Coulee sprang into action May 29 to repair 49 wooden poles on the Columbia-Valhalla #1 and #2 115-kilovolt lines damaged by a fast moving brush fire.
Their fast and safe efforts led to restoration of power to Alcoa’s Wenatchee aluminum smelting operation and roughly 200 Chelan PUD customers who lost power due to the damage. Even though power has been restored, the crews continue to work to repair the damaged poles.
More than 70 firefighters from county, state and federal agencies worked in concert to extinguish the blaze south of Wenatchee, Wash. The fire was reported on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 28. It did not damage any homes or businesses, but did destroy wooden transmission poles owned by BPA. Chelan County PUD and Douglas County PUD suffered damage to its lines in the area as well.
Longer days and fair weather will benefit the crews as they work to return all lines to service. Nobody wants this type of incident to happen, but they are ready when it does. Repair crews are working together to ensure enough people are available to complete the job safely and as quickly as possible, materials are routed to the job site, and in the midst of what is surely a pretty hectic scene, teams are coordinating with environmental and cultural resources specialists to ensure BPA’s repairs don’t inadvertently cause any unintentional damage. It really does work like a well-oiled machine.
Robin Furrer, vice president of Transmission Field Services, puts into words what many across Transmission Services, and other BPA components are thinking, “Our linemen and operators really deserve a shout out for their commitment. They stayed focused on safety during a challenging fire response that assisted both Alcoa and Chelan while also protecting and restoring BPA’s lines.”
The source of the approximately four-mile long by half-mile wide wildfire is still unknown.