Electrical crews from B.C. sent to California wildfires

Electricity fhas been shut off for millions to reduce risk of fires sparked by downed wires

A firefighter battles a wildfire near a ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

A crew of 75 Canadian electrical technicians, mechanics and safety workers, along with all their gear, is on the way to the northern California city of Vallejo to assist as wildfires char parts of the state.

Crews from Rokstad Power, based in Coquitlam, B.C., set out Tuesday, a day after company owner and CEO Aaron Rokstad says his company was contacted by officials in California asking for help.

Forecasters in the United States say California faces an “extremely critical risk” of further wildfires as winds whip up blazes that have destroyed more than 200 homes and buildings north of Vallejo.

Power provider PG&E has been shutting off electricity for millions of customers to reduce the risk of fires sparked by downed wires.

Rokstad says his company was called because it has done contract work for U.S. utilities after other disasters such as hurricanes and his crews and trucks clogged up the border crossing for hours in a rapid deployment.

He says their duties in Vallejo will include rebuilding fire-damaged power lines in what could be round-the-clock shifts of dangerous work.

“Once the areas are deemed safe and the fires are out, we will come in behind and start rebuilding the — I guess for lack of a better word — the burnt down infrastructure, overhead power lines, towers, poles … so they can get these people’s power back on.”

Rokstad says he expects power for some northern California residents could be out for weeks.

PG&E said the power that was shut down Tuesday would affect about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties including the Sierra foothills, wine country and the San Francisco Bay Area, the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Los Angeles wildfire forces residents, celebrities to flee

As many as 200,000 people have been displaced in northern California and about one million people across the state are still without power from a blackout over the weekend.

No deaths have been reported from the fires, but toppled trees claimed three lives.

– With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan Lanes bowlers take on the best in B.C.

The best results for the Cowichan Valley bowlers came in the intermediate girls division

Sonia Furstenau column: Now the time to make changes for the better

This coronavirus has given us opportunity to identify what matters most in our day-to-day lives.

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Drivesmart column: Staying on your side of the road

No exemptions that grant permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

Mary Lowther column: Starting seeds to beat the slugs, wood bugs

My favourite sorts of seedling starters are the plastic cells that fit inside trays

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read