We call them natural disasters. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc. Mother nature cooks ‘em up and tosses ‘em at us. We either get out of the way or get sucked into their destruction.

But wildfires? These are different.

Some wildfires are natural disasters. When dry thunderstorms produce lightning without rain that strikes extremely dry grasslands and trees that spark and start fires, that’s natural.

However, for most of the California wildfires burning right now, man has started them. Not natural, human-caused. The Holy Fire that prompted the evacuation of 20,000 so far was allegedly started by an arsonist that messaged two weeks back that, “The place is going to burn.” Whether arson, careless campfires, vehicle mishap, or a tossed cigarette.

There’s another human-caused way these fires start and that’s the story I want to share with you today. They’re caused by the electric company. How’s that you might ask? Let me explain and then connect the dots on how what’s happening on the west coast might have far-reaching effects across much of the country.

 

16 Hours Without Power, Every Day

To prevent wildfires, one electric company in California is pro-actively cutting off power to its customers. That’s sounds crazy, but it’s happening.

When there’s extremely dry conditions, it’s been determined that poorly maintained power lines and electrical equipment spark. It’s those sparks that hit dry or dead vegetation and start fires. According to Cal Fire, that’s how 12 wildfires started that tore through northern California in October of 2017. We won’t name the power company and play the blame game. That’s not what’s important here.

What’s happening right now is that the current heat wave and moderate drought is taking a toll on crops and the land as well as the electric grid. Power consumption increases as residents try to cool themselves.

With the transmission lines running at a maximum, they heat up and sag. When underbrush is not trimmed back, these drooping lines can touch branches or dry brush and spark. That can cause a wildfire. Aging power equipment and transformers that suddenly fail and ignite under the heavy load also are sometimes responsible.

So, to prevent fires, a large power company is cutting electricity for extended periods of time in dry areas they have identified as “risky.” That’s their plan. Cut power to millions. Arbitrarily. From Bullhead City to Napa Valley and beyond.

Tara Butchart, an MPS customer in northern California, is in one of those “risky” areas near the Cranson Fire in Idyllwild. Her power was cut. She and her neighbors have been forced to rely on mega industrial generators that supply what she describes as “severely limited” electricity.
Basically, it’s enough to run a light bulb or two. Tara’s on a four hours on, eight hours off electric brownout rotation. At one point, her power was even out for five days straight.

This resulted in a loss of refrigeration. Tara shared that she has had to break into her Patriot Pantry emergency food storage to feed her kids. “You’ll never think you’ll need them, but times like this prove you really need to be ready for anything,” she recently posted on the MPS Facebook page.

Tara also mentioned that one of the most significant issues in rural communities around her with losing power is water. Nearly all in her area are on wells. Even the few water districts nearby use wells. So, you lose power, you lose water, a double whammy.

The power company there suggests that customers in the affected areas “have a plan” for dealing with the brutally hot conditions without power. Luckily, Tara was prepared. She went through a similar incident about 15 years ago which prompted her to start keeping a supply of emergency food and other “preps.”

In summation, Tara says, “I think this was a big wake up call to many who hadn’t planned ahead.”

Damaged Transmission Systems and a Fire Tornado

This fire whirl was thought to have created a spinning vortex of 143 mph which is equivalent to an EF-3 tornado. That was enough to sever power lines with the fallen tower as well as move vehicles and uproot trees.

After a recent wildfire burned a thousand homes in Shasta County, CA, inspectors were startled to encounter a toppled transmission tower. It seems that the blaze caused a spinning vortex, much like a tornado.

Outages, increased demand due to extreme heat, damaged electrical infrastructure, and rolling brownouts leading to possible long-term blackouts all are placing a strain on folks whose daily lives depend our already frail national electric grid.

 

The Problem Can Spread Across the U.S.

These power issues in California have tentacles that can reach out across many other states. Excess electricity is sold daily from power company to power company. With less energy available out west, some major suppliers are indicating that they may not have power to sell across the county to other areas in need.

The U.S. has a power grid like a web. As power is traded across the system and across state lines, there’s usually enough available to balance the demand of our population. Through large transmission lines, your home’s power may be coming from a source a thousand miles away. If that supply is not available, rolling brownouts, could quickly appear in an area near you too, even if you live far from California.

 

It’s Up to You to Prepare

FEMA’s not going to help with this one. You must be your own first-responder. We’ve shared this question before that you should answer for yourself:

“If power was out at my home for days or weeks, what’s my plan to feed my family knowing refrigeration would likely not be available.”

Like Tara, you need to be ready for anything. The self-reliant lifestyle we choose to live helps us get through those critical times when the inevitable emergency strikes.

Whether it is a 1-Week Food Supply Ammo Can (if you have not seen these, they're great as a grab’n’go) or a substantial food storage plan like a 6-Month Emergency Food Supply that sells for under $1,000 (look at all the food you get), the point is to start building a plan today to be prepared.

A little time spent planning today will make what comes tomorrow much easier, wherever you live and for whatever natural or human-caused disaster may appear.

Have a great weekend and please, stay safe and alert!

 

In Liberty,

Keith Bansemer, MPS



Sources:
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-07-06/pge-plans-cut-electricity-some-california-residents-prevent-wildfires

http://www.mohavedailynews.com/news/mec-city-warn-california-fires-could-bring-rolling-brownouts/article_f2211004-9ad0-11e8-a941-f7d67c206736.html

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-redding-tornado-destruction-20180802-story.html

https://abc7news.com/new-pg-e-policy-may-cut-off-electricity-to-bay-area-customers-during-high-fire-danger/3599414/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/us/california-fires-mendocino-complex.html

https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/09/us/california-fires/index.html


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6 comments

  • May not necessarily be DEW, but certainly a possibility. I’d like to offer another alternative…
    Dutchsinse made an intriguing observation that all of the fires out west started where there was an Earthquake next to volcanos. There is evidence that methane burps coming up out of the ground can ignite. Dutchsinse (now on twitch) forecasts earthquakes. He’s so good that he is the only guy I know who gets attacked by name by the USGS and other governments. I think big oil money is one reason since his observations have exposed EQs occuring at drilling operations, but mostly he shows how pressure transfers through the plate on the craton edges and fault lines. Worth checking out…
    Hope that perspective helps!
    e

    Eric on
  • Since comrade Brown has declared California a Sanctuary State, the only way he can get any Federal money is through Emergency Funding. The man arrested had more flares in his car and a map of where to throw them. Brown could have put the fires out quickly but didn’t because he wants the money. It’s a sad, sick mind that would do this. May karma find him quickly.

    Carolyn on
  • This post was informational, and right on, for all the was mentioned. I believe that the results of loss or cutbacks in power over large parts of the US, will have far reaching effects on many more things. With out dependable electric, water will be the first major emergency. This is even more for a problem for most of the Western states. Gas for cars and commercial trucks may not be available without electric. Farms may not be able to grow food in amounts needed without water and electric. Transport of basic supplies, and needed medical needs may not happen. Back up systems that home owners may have will still need electric to get gas to run them. Hospitals would not be able to treat patients for long on back ups. So needed medical care would be at a minimum. Business owners of all kinds would be big losers. This goes on and on with the number of people that will suffer from the loss of power, that are far from the reaches of of fires or other natural or man made disasters. Preparing for any far reaching disaster requires much planning and thought as to what will be needed for you family on a daily bases. Water, food, shelter, heat, special needs such as medical equipment, and supplies. Resurching sources and stocking supplies is not done over night or in an emergency. It should be planed on a daily basis, and constantly updated. To keep your family safe and healthy, in the future. My Patriot supply is on the right track to help accomplish for long term and emergencys that might come our way. We all need to prepare NOW!! Thank you for the current post and many before it.

    Betty Carrington on
  • Yes, Dan, I have seen what you are talking about with D.E.A., but I find that very hard to believe, and what you say is NOT true about transformer failures. They can and do short out internally and actually blow up, spraying insulating oil and hot particles of the internal components onto the ground. If there is not a cleared out space beneath the transformer pole, those hot fragments of transformer will certainly cause a fire. When power lines get highly loaded, the conductors get hot and the line sags but it is highly unlikely that the conductor will sag enough to contact any ground based objects unless it fails and breaks. That is a highly unlikely situation as there are current sensing relays at the line terminals that will de-energize the line before it becomes that seriously overloaded. I really suspect that you are seeing the results of extremely intense heat during a firestorm. I suspect that you have not witnessed a large and aggressive wind driven fire storm. The heat is extremely intense and will do unimaginable damage!

    Leonard Liotta on
  • D. E. W.? Interesting. I must research this “new to me” revelation. Very intriguing.

    Lyndle Garrett on

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