Strong Wildfires Cause Power Outages After Damages To Power Structures

Jun 30, 2020

Credit Scott Liebenson

Firefighters are continuing to contain the multiple wildfires raging in Utah. While much of these fires are now at least semi contained, the fires burned through utility poles causing power outages for many Utahns. 

Rocky Mountain Power provides electricity for 80% of Utah, and during wildfire season the company will usually plan outages to protect the power lines from further damage. But last weekend several of the fires, natural and man-made, were unusually strong and damaging. 

“Wildfire is something we have long dealt with,” said David Eskelsen, a spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power. “This is pretty unusual to have this amount of damage and concentrated in that, in that small of an area. You know, damage of this magnitude typically does not happen every year.”

As of Monday night Rocky Mountain Fire restored service to half of the customers affected by power outages, and expect the rest of the customers to have service by Thursday. Because of the extensive damage caused by the fires, restoring power is a challenge. 

 

The first step is assessing damage, and then trying to reduce the size of the outages to get residents back on. Only after that, can repairing the utility poles and other structures be addressed. 

“I think the main challenge in a situation like this is just the logistics of assessing the damage, prioritizing that, and then getting the new equipment and the replacement parts all where they need to be,” Eslkelsen said. “It was quite an operation and there are literally dozens of people who were involved in that.”