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Power Lines and Wildfires- Relation between both of Them

Over time, utilities had to deal with wildfire-related destruction to their transmission and delivery lines. And there is proof that the power lines are themselves triggering the wildfires.

In a study, it was found that high winds are responsible for blowing the trees and their branches into power lines that result in fires. Another case showed that wind can snap wooden distribution line poles, causing live wires to fall onto nearby dry grass, setting it on fire.

But not all the time, the wind is the cause. There are many other causes that lead to wildfires caused by powerline failures. Some of them are listed below.

Faulty insulators

A small or huge fault in an insulator may be a reason that can cause wildfires. In a study, it was reported that defective or broken insulators decrease the arc-over distance by allowing moisture build-up in those cracks. Which may lead to more damage.

Moreover, damage in the insulator may also be due to the high voltage of current flowing through it. So it’s crucial to have a constant and regular check on the insulators in order to avoid such fires.


One of the main reasons for wild-fires can be the wiring. Out-of-date wiring generally causes fires. Experts at Utility Service & Maintenance, Inc. say that if an electrical pole holds wiring that is more than 20 years old, then chances of causing a fire due to the overload of the current increases. This is because old wiring isn’t capable of taking higher power loads as compared to the modern ones.

Breakers should be triggered when lines get loaded by too much power. But old breaker boxes usually have used connectors that do not work, making the system to overload and cause an electrical fire.

Slapping in between the conductors

Power Lines are outlined in such a way that there is enough space between conductors so that they do not get in contact with each other. But due to some unusual circumstances, when they slap each other, they result in a fire.  Conductor slap generates high-energy arcing and expels hot metal particles capable of burning ground-level combustibles. Since the conductors are made up of aluminum, the emitted particles may cause a fire as they fall.

Vegetation contact

Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation intrusions into the electricity lines can generate fires in many ways. For example, a tree hanging across a powerline can rip down the line and can result in a downed line. This further in result will cause branch spanning of two-line conductors, that can produce high-temperature arcs. And still, if the branch remains in contact and arcing, it can cause progressive damage, that can eventually break the lines.

That’s it. This is how powerlines and wildfires are linked with each other. Also, these are the main reasons that cause power lines to set wild-fire. But if proper information and the reason are known one can avoid such fires. So keep in mind, to maintain these powerlines and avoid fire incidents.

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