SDG&E Tree-Tracking System at Center of Earlier Rice Wildfire

A giant oak tree destroyed a home in Ramona during the Superbowl weekend, after SDG&E or its contractors allegedly first trimmed the tree then returned to cut power lines holding the tree upright. A utility spokesman denied reponsibility, calling it "an unfortunate situation" ("Large tree falls and destroys Ramona home").

Nearby Ramona neighbors reported seeing SDG&E workers cutting the power line that held up the oak only moments before it demolished the home on Fernbrook Drive. SDG&E allegedly refused to have done any earlier trimming on the 150-year-old oak nearest to the house because of liability concerns ("Tree crashes into home").

SDG&E's Vegatation Management Program drives power line-related tree trimming in San Diego County. The same utility program failed to anticipate the start of the 2007 Rice Wildfire as a result of delayed tree trimming, even though a SDG&E contractor had used the computerized system to notify SDG&E that the tree in question needed immediate attention and should not to be put off more than three months.

Don Akau, SDG&E's VMP manager, testified in 2009 that the utility failed to act in the three months before the Rice Wildfire because it did not get a written memo repeating the computerized warning from the contractor (Akau's Rice Wildfire Testimony).


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