Power crews bury lines to prevent fires in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Jun 20, 2023, 6:01 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2023, 5:34 pm

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — A major wildfire prevention operation is happening up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Rocky Mountain Power crews are cutting through the pavement with a giant saw blade and are digging a trench more than three feet deep to bury miles and miles of power lines. The fear is having power lines blow over and cause a wildfire.

“We’re going to go underground with those lines so that we don’t have to worry about the risk of us starting a wildfire by coming into contact with trees, with limbs, with any other type of vegetation that may be blown,” said Jona Whitesides, a Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson.

Wildfire consumes several acres in Washington County

On Monday, power lines were blown down in American Fork Canyon due to a major windstorm, knocking out the power to about 66 customers. Power crews have been working practically around the clock to restore power and get it all repaired.

Fortunately, no fires were started because of the moist and green vegetation.

“Yeah, broken lines in the middle of dry grasses and warm temperatures could definitely create a very high risk for wildfire,” Whitesides explained.

Crews have shut down one lane of traffic on state Route 190 between mile markers 4 and 5.

Rocky Mountain Power said they’ve looked at 30 years of weather data in Big Cottonwood Canyon and brought in a meteorologist to analyze the best solution.

“We know when it gets to a certain percentage of wind, it increases the likelihood that you’re going to have debris in the air. It will make contact with the lines, which will create a spark and cause a wildfire,” Whitesides said.

Construction is anticipated to be completed by the end of October.

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Power crews bury lines to prevent fires in Big Cottonwood Canyon