Forest officials admit there is not enough space around towers - CBS 5 - KPHO

Forest officials admit there is not enough space around towers

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CBS 5 News viewers have been hitting the "Action Button," asking why residents are told to keep a defensible space around their homes while trees are growing right up to the communication towers.

It took several hours to get an answer about who is in charge of maintaining the area around the towers. However, according to Betty Mathews from the Prescott National Forest, the land is managed by the Forest Service.

The individual owners of the towers are given special use permits to have their equipment on the forest land. Part of the permit requires the owner maintains a 10-foot defensible space around the tower.

Matthews admitted that the current requirement is not enough considering they are in fire-prone areas.

"What we have learned from this fire is that is not enough. It is not enough defensible space in order to protect those million-dollar facilities. So one of the things that I want to do, because we have three other sites in the forest, is work with the communication site owners to come up with a defensible space plan," said Matthews.

Currently, the Gladiator Fire is just 100 yards from the towers. Crews have been working to build containment lines around those towers.  

CBS 5 News was told the towers supply telephone and internet access to the area. They are also vital for fire and sheriff communications.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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