131 residents lose power following power pole fire

Stock photo | St. George News

IRON COUNTY – A power pole caught fire in the Westview area of Cedar City Tuesday, leaving 131 residents without electricity for hours while Rocky Mountain Power technicians worked to replace the pole.

Firefighters were dispatched to the power pole fire around noon, Cedar City Fire Department firefighter Jordan Smith said. The Iron County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene, as well.

“When we were called out the pole had already burned and the top was already hanging with the transformer on it,” Smith said. “The pole had burned out just below it, so the whole thing had just kind of tipped over.”

The wires were holding up the transformer and the top 6 feet of the pole, he said.

“We had reports of high winds and bad weather in the area at the time,” Rocky Mountain Power Spokesperson Margaret Oler said.

The power went out at 11:31 a.m. Power was restored by 2:20 p.m. for 115 customers, Oler said. Sixteen residents continued without power until 5:01 p.m.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, Smith said. It could have been caused by dirt caught in the insulators, he said, or a lightning strike from the stormy weather; there is no way of knowing, since no witnesses saw it begin.

The fire was quite small, Smith said, and the role CCFD played was to protect the public from the potential hazard and wait for Rocky Mountain Power to send a crew to cut power to the lines. Attempting to put the fire out when the wires were potentially live is incredibly dangerous, he said.

“In this case, they had to go a couple of blocks up the line and then put the power out on the whole grid,” Smith said.

There was a lot of dry grass in the area so firefighters were on the alert, he said, but with all of the recent rains the ground was wet enough to keep the fire from spreading elsewhere.

These types of fires are frequent during heavy storms, Smith said.

If passersby notice any sparks or flames coming from electrical lines or power poles, Oler said, the first thing they should do is stay away from the area and get anyone else out of the immediate vicinity as fast as possible.

When they are a safe distance from the area, they should then call the power company and report it so they can get a service crew into the area quickly, she said.

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