POSTED: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 10:30am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 1:33pm
EL PASO- The Wallow fire in Arizona has left hundreds of acres charred in its path.
Now, those flames are headed right for El Paso’s power supply from the Palo Verde power plant.
"We're hoping they contain the fire before it reaches line," says Teresa Souza.
But with the fire still 0% contained, Souza from El Paso Electric says a power shortage is a real possibility.
"We are preparing for this event and also looking at how to restore power again," says Souza.
Souza says the fire is spreading about 8 miles a day. At that rate, it could reach one of El Paso’s shared transmission lines by tomorrow and on Friday flames could hit the main line. If the fire knocks out both lines, 40% of El Paso’s power would be out.
"It’s a lot of power to lose. That's why we're looking at other options to help us," says Souza.
If power is lost Souza says rolling blackouts will be enforced, along with restrictions on energy use.
The utility is also looking at other ways to make sure the city isn't left in the dark.
"We are taking preparations and seeing if we can purchase additional power from other areas, other sources," says Souza.
In the meantime, El Paso Fire Chief Otto Drodz is making sure the department is ready to handle rolling blackouts in 100-degree weather.
"Those that are most at risk are the elderly, the infirmed and the very young," says Drodz.
They’re finding ways to keep people cool when their electricity is out.
"We’re already looking at the potential of opening up cooling shelters. Transportation will be provided through Sun Metro for those people who have no transportation," says Drodz.
City leaders say nobody knows just how severe things will get, they can only get ready.
"As of right now, we're just watching the progress of the fire," says Souza.