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IBEW Crews Brave Nevada Wildfire




IBEW Local 1245s Sierra Pacific Power crew work amidst burned structures and charred vegetation while restoring electric service in Kings Canyon in the wake of a Nevada wildfire: Local 1245 Sierra Pacific Power lineman Charlie Appleton, upgraded to foreman (in bucket); apprentice Randy Menesini (on pole); and lineman Aaron Coulson (on ground).

Vacaville, California, Local 1245 members at Sierra Pacific Power mobilized rapidly to restore service in the wake of a wildfire that blazed through 8,700 acres on the western edge of Carson City, Nevada.

The fire apparently spread quickly through Kings Canyon. IBEW crews responded immediatelyinitially, the smoke was so intense they had to work with masks.

"We got right in there with those fire guys," said General Foreman Pat Lantis. "We got water pumpers out and worked to salvage some poles."

As the blaze advanced, Sierra crews had to assess the direction it would go and try to de-energize threatened areas. "We didnt want poles going down and starting more fires," said Troubleman Scott Downs, a Local 1245 member.

After night set in, even as the fire continued to spread, the crews began reconstruction. "That first night we put up nine poles, changed some transformers and put wire back up," Lantis said.

The IBEW team worked around the clock for the first two days of the fire. Local 1245 Sierra Pacific warehouse employees from the Reno area made sure the crews had ample suppliesthey brought in the warehouse trailer with its stock of bolts, cross-arms and braces. Crews worked extended days until all service was restored to homes not damaged by the fire.

"Our guys did an exemplary job," Lantis said. "It was phenomenal."

In all, 52 IBEW-represented Sierra Pacific employees mobilized to combat the fire and restore power in its aftermath.

November 2004 IBEW Journal