FOX40 Flies Along with PG&E to Patrol Power Lines

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As we gear up for the summer months, PG&E crews are patrolling area power lines.

Because of the ongoing drought conditions, they’re keeping a closer eye on them.

In the skies above Auburn, FOX40 tagged along Friday as PG&E gets a bird’s eye view of the area.

"It's really an extra step we're trying to do in relation to the drought,” said PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers.

From above, senior consulting utility forester Jeff Thomas spotted several dead and dying trees.

"You’re looking at dead trees. You’re also looking for diseased or decay or declining in the tree, because we try and project what tree's going to die very soon," Thomas said.

The idea is to identify ailing trees near power lines now so they don’t become a serious hazard later.

"The tree can fall or their limbs can fall into the lines, causing just a simple power outage. It can bring a line down and spark a wildfire. It can also cause a public safety hazard,” Ehlers said.

As California’s severe drought continues, these patrols are an extra step the utility company takes ahead of fire season.

Friday, Thomas spotted 24 dead or dying trees in Auburn alone.

After flying over Auburn, the chopper continued onto El Dorado Hills and Placerville.

"We want to cut off the hazard before it actually becomes a hazard,” said Thomas.

After air patrols are complete, ground crews will check trees that were identified and decide whether or not they need to be removed.

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