As part of its Wildfire Mitigation Program, the Chelan PUD is conducting a series of community drop-in sessions.

The first of these drop-ins will take place in Leavenworth (Tuesday, June 18, 4:30 p.m. at the Leavenworth PUD Auditorium). The other two will be held in Wenatchee (Wednesday, June 19, 4:30 p.m. at Beehive Grange) and Entiat (Thursday, June 20, 6-8 p.m. at Entiat Fire Hall).

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The PUD seeks to educate customers on a new strategy it calls fire safety outage management. This is a protective measure; it involves shutting off power in remote locations.

About a quarter of the utility's customer base is rural. These customers live in the foothills of Chelan and other tempestuous, fire-prone areas.

It's not an accident that this strategy is being rolled out in the middle of June, says PUD spokeswoman Rachel Hansen.

"Throughout the summer, the PUD is going to be monitoring weather forecasts," Hansen says. "That includes predicted wind gusts, humidity - and how dry the fuel is."

"For example, we know that when the forests dry out, and we've got a bunch of dry, dead shrubs on the forest floor, or the sage brush dries out and the hills are all brown, that can catch fire. Fire can spread in that environment a lot faster than, say, in the springtime."

"We're talking about really high winds, low humidity, it's super dry outside. The potential for fire behavior is pretty extreme. That's when we might consider proactively turning off the power."

According to the PUD website, there are no scheduled outages.

"It's pretty rare that we'll use it," Hansen admits. "But it's something we want our customers to be aware of and prepared for."

Click here for information.

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