PG&E replaces power pole that Rossmoor residents blame for fires

ROSSMOOR, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 is committed to building a Better Area and for residents of the Rossmoor Senior Development near Walnut Creek, things got better when PG&E finally replaced an old power pole that residents blame for five grass fires over the past dozen years. The most recent fire was last month.

On Wednesday, the whine of chainsaws was like music to the ears of residents who live along Golden Rain Drive in Rossmoor.

RELATED: Rossmoor community wants dangerous PG&E power pole replaced

"This is great progress," according to Jim Brennan, who has lived a stone's throw away from the power pole for 15 years. He has seen grassfires burn up the hill towards his condo time after time-- most recently a few weeks ago.

PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian says, "We did experience a fire in September caused by a squirrel that had made contact with our equipment."

PG&E crews were out on this windy red flag Wednesday, on a steep hillside working to replace the old power pole with a sturdier new model. With the old pole, squirrels could climb up and be electrocuted by the high voltage connectors at the top, and fall to the ground below igniting grassfires.

"What we're doing now is adding covers to our vertical conductors and connections and that should help prevent those kind of problems from occurring" she said.

But, not so fast, says Jim Brennan. He says PG&E first promised to fix this by the end of last year, and with a different kind of replacement.

"They led us to believe that the new pole was going to be steel. Now you can see that's not the case," he says.

RELATED: 'Maliciously cut' power poles start Mare Island wildfire

PG&E responded that the terrain is so rough they can't bring in a regular cherry picker, so they had to install a pole that workers could climb and that means wood.

The utility says the plan may not be perfect, but it should be effective. Brennan says he's keeping his fingers crossed that they're right.

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