Transmission problem, broken jumper near where Kincade Fire ignited, PG&E reports

Kincade Fire

SONOMA COUNTY (KRON) — Preliminary reporting from PG&E to the California Public Utilities Commission shows there was an issue with a transmission tower Wednesday night at the same location as the Kincade Fire sparked.

In a report filed by PG&E Thursday morning, the utility said there was a broken jumper on a transmission tower near Kincade Road and Burned Mountain — the same location where the fire began.

The affected transmission tower was not de-energized as part of PG&E’s power safety shutoffs, due to expected weather conditions, the company said.

PG&E first became aware of a transmission outage at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday night.

The Kincade Fire began at 9:27 p.m.

Thursday morning, a CAL FIRE employee found a broken jumper on the same transmission tower and told the PG&E worker.

The report released Thursday by the utilities commission lists the cause of the broken jumper as unknown.

The Kincade Fire has burned 10,000 acres and prompted widespread evacuations in Sonoma County.

CAL FIRE lists the cause of the fire as “under investigation.”

In the California Public Utilities Commission report, it says:

“At approximately 2120 hours on October 23, 2019, PG&E became aware of a Transmission level outage on the Geysers #9 Lakeville 230kV line when the line relayed and did not reclose. At approximately 0730 hours on October 24, 2019, a responding PG&E Troubleman patrolling the Geysers #9 Lakeville 230 kV line observed that CAL FIRE had taped off the area around the base of transmission tower 001/006. On site CAL FIRE personnel brought to the Troubleman?s attention what appeared to be a broken jumper on the same tower. PG&E is reporting this incident under the Media Criterion. This information is preliminary.”

In a statement, PG&E responded to the report by saying the affected transmission line was inspected earlier in the year and that the line was not de-energized because it “did not trigger” power shutoff protocol.

PG&E statement:

Yesterday by 3 p.m., PG&E had conducted a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) and turned off the power for safety to approximately 27,837 customers in Sonoma County, including Geyserville and the surrounding area.

PG&E crews have been on the ground since last night supporting CAL FIRE’s efforts to fight the Kincade Fire and make the area safe. As part of the PSPS, PG&E distribution lines in these areas were deenergized.

Following PG&E’s established PSPS protocols and procedures, transmission lines in these areas remained energized. Those transmission lines were not deenergized because forecast weather conditions, particularly wind speeds, did not trigger the PSPS protocol.

The wind speeds of concern for transmission lines are higher than those for distribution. PG&E’s report noted that at approximately 9:20 p.m. on October 23, 2019, PG&E became aware of a transmission level outage on the Geysers #9 Lakeville 230kV line when the line relayed and did not reclose, deenergizing the line.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. on October 24, 2019, a responding PG&E troubleman patrolling the Geysers #9 Lakeville 230 kV line observed that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) had taped off the area around the base of transmission tower 001/006 in the area of the Kincade Fire.

The transmission tower noted above was inspected earlier this year as part of PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Inspection Program. On site CAL FIRE personnel brought to the troubleman’s attention what appeared to be a broken jumper on the same tower.

This information is preliminary, and PG&E is continuing to investigate.

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