UPDATE 5:20 PM:
After 11 days, the Palo Colorado area is now safe for PG&E crews to move in and restore power in the aftermath of the Soberanes Fire.
More than 100 PG&E crews using some 100 pieces of equipment are working in the area. One by one, crews are looking at both distribution and transformer lines.
“I want to see how deep that charcoal (of a burned pole) goes, how deep that pole is burned,” is how one PG&E employee described it.
There are 10 poles in the Palo Colorado area that need to be replaced. Another 70 have been identified in other areas also. It wasn’t just the fire that destroyed all of the power poles, downed trees also took some down.
Getting the job done takes time because of the rugged conditions and narrow roadways.
"We've brought in excavators and other heavy equipment that allows us to transport poles,” Mayra Tostado, PG&E spokeswoman, said. “Some of these areas are very narrow. Therefore, we're using smaller equipment to get into these areas, transport poles, wires, transformers, anything that we need to ensure that we can get the work done."
While their ground game is covered, PG&E has help from above – helicopters.
"We've set up two landing zones,” Tostado said. “One by Palo Colorado and the other at our base camp at CSUMB. We want to ensure that if there's an area we can't get in with a vehicle or people walking up there, we can use a helicopter to get access to be able to transport materials, equipment and crews."
After Palo Colorado, PG&E crews will head to Rancho San Carlos, an area they say is still dangerous. There has been no word when all of the replacement work will be completed.
It will be months -- if not years – before areas burned in the Soberanes Fire fully recover. But Tuesday, the process begins for some. PG&E crews are working to repair distribution poles, transformers and wires damaged by the fire.
The fire, which began July 22, caused six separate power outages and continues to pose a threat to homes and infrastructure.
Tonight, KION’s Mariana Hicks will show us the work that’s underway to restore power to the area.