John & Nancy Murray: PG&E and two small branches |

John & Nancy Murray: PG&E and two small branches

Other Voices
John and Nancy Murray

The Murrays on Apple Blossom Way in Grass Valley are with you in your call to arms to put money and effort toward making our area safe from a deadly fire.

We agree, bureaucracy and arguments about to cut a tree down or not is going to kill us one day. Paradise had some of those same arguments when they planned to have only a two-lane highway to keep their lovely area rustic.

I love our forested area, but now days, each time I take the drive home on Highway 174, I envision thousands of people trying to merge onto and use that road to escape flames. In a best-case scenario, it is frightening, but we are close to having a worst-case scenario. When you are driving the road, just look up. The trees are not just close to the road, but tower over the road in many places.

Now picture them in flames. We need to create a safe escape route in the case of fire.

… we would be safer today and they would have spent a lot less money if it was enforced that trees growing directly under a power line are to be cut down.

And then there is PG&E’s overall tree plan. Over the 20 years we have been in our home, we have encountered numerous individuals who say they were working for PG&E “mapping” the area or “tagging” trees that are near the power lines with different colored flags. We have seen numerous crews come out to “limb” trees directly under a power line, creating a deformed tree with the middle cut out. Over the years crews have returned to do the same job many times on the same trees.

I can only guess that this has something to do with the bureaucracy … but we would be safer today and they would have spent a lot less money if it was enforced that trees growing directly under a power line are to be cut down.

Here is a recent personal story of questionable management: On a Thursday in October a truck came onto our property, which is located at a dead end about one block in from Highway 174. My husband went out to see what they wanted. He was told they had an “emergency” order to cut down two limbs that were a potential danger of hitting the power line and causing a fire.

The power lines are on our neighbor’s property, the limbs in question were on ours. We had no problem with them cutting the limbs, although they were not touching the lines, one day they might touch them. My husband pointed out to the four-man crew, that there were many other limbs on our block that were just as close to the lines and should also be trimmed.

“No, this order was for only these two” branches. Hours went by. The crew was having a hard time positioning their truck to allow the bucket to get close enough to cut the branches. Over three hours in, my husband went to see how they were doing only to find they had cut off one of our plum trees with the hopes that they could get close enough. It had not worked, and they were getting ready to leave.

What about our plum tree?

“Don’t worry, we will make sure we reimburse you.”

We were told they would be back Monday with someone that could climb the tree and cut the limbs. On Monday, two different trucks were back, with six or seven men, one being a tree climber. After a little more than two hours the two limbs were cut down.

Yes, it took that many hours and that many men to cut down two branches.

After numerous calls to the crew we have not been reimbursed for the plum tree.

We know that the job PG&E must do is huge, and they are way behind. Someone must wrestle this herd of cats into a plan that is logical and productive. One thought would be to spend some money getting feedback from customers that have been involved with the crews. Perhaps spend more time ahead to best utilize their manpower.

The company cannot spend six or seven hours, using four to seven men to cut down two small branches.

John and Nancy Murray live in Grass Valley.

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