When the dog days of summer finally take hold of Kaweah Country, residents, visitors, and emergency personnel must be constantly mindful of a season where every day there is extreme fire danger. When a wildland fire breaks out, it’s often one of two causes.
A visitor to Lake Kaweah or the river thinks it’s clever to broil a waterfront lunch on a portable grill. A sudden gust of wind comes up and, poof, the landscape all around is a rapidly spreading blaze.
Another frequent cause is the bird-on-the-wire scenario. Although the 8 a.m. incident of Thursday, July 5, remains under investigation, apparently an electrocuted bird was the cause. The bird that made the fatal choice to land on the transmission line near Horse Creek caused the main 66,000-volt line relaying power to Three Rivers to break the circuit.
Almost simultaneously, the power all over Three Rivers went out and a loud bang was heard by residents living nearby SCE’s Powerhouse No. 3 on Kaweah River Drive. The noise was caused by a circuit breaker shutting down at the generating station at the powerhouse.
The power outage lasted 10 minutes as SCE rerouted power back to Three Rivers via an alternative line from the Rector Substation on Lovers Lane in Visalia. Another brief flicker of power occurred shortly after noon while workers searched for potential line damage that may have been caused by the fire.
The fire was extinguished in less than an hour before it had even grown to 10 acres in size.