- - Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Transmission lines threatened by wildfires

SPRINGERVILLE — A raging forest fire in eastern Arizona that has forced thousands from their homes headed Wednesday for a pair of transmission lines that supply electricity to hundreds of thousands of people as far east as Texas.

The 607-square-mile blaze is expected to reach the power lines as early as Friday. If the lines are damaged, parts of New Mexico and Texas could face rolling blackouts.

For now, firefighters who have helped keep the flames away from several towns in eastern Arizona are concerned that high winds could carry embers that can cause new, smaller spot fires.


Utility: Pipe that exploded had prior leak

SAN BRUNO — A California utility says staff recently found documents revealing a prior gas leak on the pipeline that exploded near San Francisco last year and immediately notified federal investigators probing the blast.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman discussed the 1988 gas leak during a news conference Wednesday in suburban San Bruno.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman Brian Swanson said staff found documentation on May 20 of the small leak on the same transmission line about nine miles south of the neighborhood devastated by September’s deadly pipeline blast.

Mr. Swanson said the company replaced a 12-foot portion of the leaking pipe the same year.

Miss Hersman said it’s “troubling” that the utility only revealed the leak a few weeks ago, nearly nine months after the investigation began.

The NTSB is still probing what caused the Sept. 9 explosion, which sparked a gigantic fireball that engulfed a San Bruno neighborhood and killed eight, injured dozens and destroyed 38 homes.


Education firestorm sparks attempt at repeal

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