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Aerial wildfire safety inspection

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is using helicopters to conduct accelerated wildfire safety inspections of electrical substations, transmission towers and lines in northern Santa Barbara County.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is using helicopters to conduct accelerated wildfire safety inspections of electrical substations, transmission towers and lines in addition to routine patrols of wires and poles in certain areas of Santa Barbara County.

PG&E crews and contractors began inspections today and will continue into early May, a spokesman for the utility company said.

Today and Saturday, accelerated wildfire inspections will take place over electrical substations in Lompoc and Buellton.

Then Monday through Thursday, routine aerial patrols of poles, lines and other facilities will be conducted in the Figueroa Mountain and Los Olivos areas and between Lompoc and Solvang, mainly south of Highway 246.

Accelerated wildfire safety inspections over transmission towers and lines throughout northern Santa Barbara County will take place April 29 through May 6.

Depending on weather conditions, flights will occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at about 250 feet above the ground, the spokesman said.

Helicopters may hover in the same location for up to 10 minutes or may make repeat passes along the same set of lines to re-examine equipment.

The accelerated inspections are part of safety efforts implemented following the wildfires of 2017 and 2018 to help reduce the risk of fire.

For more information, visit pge.com/wildfireinspections.

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Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.