SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – PG&E has begun daily aerial fire and smoke detection patrols across the thousands of miles of its service area, the utility company said Tuesday.

The patrols by planes assist the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and other local fire agencies with early detection and response, PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.

The patrols that began June 1 will continue to Oct. 31 or later.  Seven fixed-wing aircraft will fly from late afternoon until dusk when wildfires are likely to start.

In the Bay Area, the planes will fly from Vacaville south to Solvang and the Central Coast. Planes also will fly over Lake and Mendocino counties.

In 2018, PG&E patrols identified 209 fires, 10 of which were first reports. PG&E started the patrols in 2014.

PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program also includes enhanced inspections in high fire-risk areas, the installation of weather stations and high-definition cameras and the operation of a 24/7 Wildfire Safety Operations Center.

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