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If you remember last year when four wildfires were started by trees coming into contact with power lines, you will understand the need to keep trees properly cared for and trimmed. Although it is the utility company’s responsibility to make sure that trees are trimmed away from their power lines and equipment, we also bear responsibility as homeowners.

This is the truth: any trees that come into contact with high voltage power lines can ignite a fire. Trees remain one of the largest sources of power outages in California today. If we all work together, we can reduce the likelihood of fires by remaining vigilant to these possibilities.

How Do These Fires Start?

First, let’s take a look at how fires can start due to vegetation contact with power lines. There are multiple ways this can happen. First, any tree falling across a line has the ability to tear that line down. This can result in an entirely downed and dangerous line.

Even a branch that spans the line conductors long enough may ignite the branch. This can result in high-energy electric arcs. If that branch remains in contact, it will eventually cause a break in the line. An arcing downed wire can ignite any vegetation or other materials in the area.

What the Law Says

State law clearly states that utility companies maintain a safe clearance between lines and vegetation. But the public also has a responsibility. First, it is our duty to allow them access for maintenance of that clearance. Any damage or injuries that may be caused as the result of non-compliance may result in our insurance not covering them.

Our Duties as Homeowners

As homeowners, we can help prevent these fires and public safety hazards. Trimming and cleaning away any dead, dry, and flammable vegetation within a hundred feet of our homes and structures is required by law. By taking a long-term approach in our planting, we should consider how any trees we plant may grow into a power line. This can easily be done by consulting with the utility company to confirm the maximum tree height allowed in that area.

Healthy Trees are More Fire Resistant

Trees that are properly cared for are more fire resistant than ones that have been left to their own devices. This means proper watering and trimming. Never prune trees near power lines. Always call a professional San Jose tree pruning specialist to ensure that the work is being done safely and properly.

Tree Assessment

Periodically assess your trees for hazards. If you see indications of dying or diseased trees, consult with your local arborist to discuss whether that tree should be removed.

Keeping a dead or dying tree on your property can be a fire hazard in the making. At Bay Area Tree Specialists, our San Jose tree care professionals would be happy to help you with an assessment of your trees in order to ensure they are not a potential fire hazard. Call us today.