Wallow Fire Not Expected to Cut Off Power in Tucson, El Paso

The Wallow Fire, which has partially been contained, is not expected to cause blackouts in Tucson, Ariz., or El Paso, Texas.

Officials of Tucson Electric Power said Friday that the wildfire most likely will not reach the closest power line, which is eight miles away in the opposite direction, according to The Arizona Daily Star. Even if the Wallow Fire reaches the Springerville Generating Station, which has been feared for days, TEP can get energy from local power plants to compensate and there would not be a power outage, said TEP spokesman Joe Salkowski.

“It would just be like driving with our spare tire, we would just be operating in a more vulnerable position,” Salkowski explained.

Eastern Arizona’s Wallow Fire, the second largest wildfire in the state’s history, has consumed over 408,000 acres, reported Jim Whittington, an officer with the Southwest Incident Command Center, on Friday. But for the first time, the over 3,000 firefighters have some good news to share: five percent of the fire is contained as of today.

Softer winds of 15 mph on Friday have allowed firefighters to be more successful in battling the mammoth wildfire. Since May 29, when the fire began, efforts to contain it have failed due to high heat and strong winds, at times up to 35 mph, that carried flames miles away.

In Texas, El Paso Electric is keeping a wary eye on the wildfire, which was 15 miles away from two of its main transmission lines connected to the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, reports The Associated Press. The two lines provide about 40 percent of the power supply for El Paso Electric, which serves 372,000 residents in West Texas and southern New Mexico.

With the good news on Friday comes a dose of warning, that winds are expected to increase up to 30 mph by noon Saturday.

“We have about 24 hours to hit everything hard before this new front comes in,” said Kelly Wood, a spokesman for the Pinetop Fire Department, according to The Arizona Republic.

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