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APS volunteers head to California to restore power grids burned in Paradise

Posted at 6:33 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 20:33:35-05

Dozens of APS volunteers will be heading to California to help rebuild the power grid in the fire-ravaged community of Paradise.

APS officials say they got the call for help from the California utility company PG&E that services the area.

Wade Ward, a fire mitigation specialist with APS who was one of about 40 volunteers who planned to make the trip described it as a huge restoration effort.

"I think everybody is aware of the significant amount of damage that has been caused. Just total devastation to the community and to the infrastructure," said Ward.

APS volunteers are used to responding to calls for help from around the country. In the past few years utility company volunteers have helped rebuild the infrastructure in communities devastated by hurricanes, like Puerto Rico.

They also responded to the same area in California in 2017 after massive flooding in Northern California.

Ward, a former woodland firefighter said his job would be to guide crews on how to work around burned structures.  

He also cited the bad air quality and mounds of ash crews would have to deal with while on this mission to help rebuild a community.

"Underneath all of that ash is a lot of hidden hazards that our folks are not typically used to dealing with," said Ward.

Twenty-one APS volunteers will be heading out early Saturday morning, another 20 will make the trip next week. They plan to be in California for about three weeks.

Ward said even though this means a long time away from their own families during the holiday season, they are happy to help their neighbors in need.

"That's one of the sacrifices you make. There is people in need. We all have plenty. We're going to celebrate, have dinner with our families in the next few days and then we'll go help," Ward said. "Those folks don't have a place to celebrate. They don't have a table to sit at.  Many of them even lost family members, so it's little for us to ask to go out and help out."