Two small fires started when a helicopter contracted by PG&E hit a power line near Calistoga causing a power outage affecting 8,300 PG&E customers in Calistoga and Lake County Thursday afternoon, a PG&E spokeswoman said.
The fires occurred in the 3000 block of Palisades Road in unincorporated Napa County just north of Calistoga, Cal Fire spokesman Will Powers said.
The fires burned a half-acre and one acre, Powers said.
Only 17 customers were without power in Calistoga early this evening, PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said
PG&E this week said it is patrolling Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties with a Bell 407 helicopter and a Bell 206L3 Ranger helicopter to look for vegetation near electric lines in high fire threat areas.
A helicopter with three contractors aboard was patrolling the Calistoga area today when it touched a power line, Contreras confirmed.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said a Bell 206L4 helicopter struck power lines while performing inspections about 3-4 miles northwest of Calistoga around 1:10 p.m.
The impact cut the power lines, which fell to the ground, sparking a brush fire, Gregor said. The helicopter made a precautionary landing. The three people on board were not injured, Gregor said.