High-voltage power line catches fire, leaving hundreds without power

ST. GEORGE — A fire ignited on a high-voltage power line pole causing a flash, or explosion, near the Dixie Center St. George Thursday that disrupted service for hundreds of customers for more than an hour.

High-voltage power line pole burns after catching fire near Confluence Park Thursday, St. George, Utah, July 27, 2017 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

Shortly before 1 p.m., firefighters, police officers and utility repair crews  were dispatched to Confluence Park, 1850 Convention Center Drive, where a power pole had caught fire.

Upon arrival responders found that a high-voltage power line pole was arcing, flashing and burning as emergency repair crews from St. George Energy Services Department arrived and cut the power.

The fire triggered a power outage that affected approximately 600 customers in the area of Bluff Street and Dixie Drive, but services were fully restored by 2:15 p.m according to the Energy Services Department.

Firefighters were able to safely extinguish the blaze quickly, St. George Fire Capt. Rick Nelson said.

The fire may have been caused by an animal or a bird. But Nelson said that consideration is preliminary as the fire is still under investigation.

Squirrels rank No. 1 among causes of power outages, and inflict more damage to electrical grids than any other single source. As a matter of fact, an analysis going back 35 years showed that squirrels were responsible for 913 of the 1774 animal-caused disruptions to power grids across the country, according to an analysis released in April 2015 by Packet Power.

Electrocution is the No. 1 threat to the squirrel, and creates an arc that can ignite a fire on the power line or pole causing extensive damage to equipment as well as service interruptions. 

Birds come in at No. 2 among causes of power outages, and are responsible for nearly a quarter of all outages reported in the U.S., according to a December 2015 report by T&D World, an online publication that covers matters relating to the electric power-delivery system.

They collide with overhead structures and conductors or damage facilities which can lead to arcing, fire and even power outages.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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