Eagle Bay firefighters responded to wires on the road on Dec. 31, 2019. Buried in snow, the still energized wires ignited the asphalt beneath. (Eagle Bay Fire Department photo)

Shuswap firefighters warn of dangers of downed, damaged power lines

Eagle Bay Fire Department cautions public to keep safe distance, call 911

Recent incidents of downed or damaged power lines have prompted Shuswap firefighters to issue a public service reminder.

The Eagle Bay Fire Department put out the reminder on its Facebook page on Jan. 4, explaining they’ve responded to multiple recent call outs for trees on wires, wires on the road, trees on fire, wires pulled away from houses, etc. While some of the downed wires were observed arcing, moving or accompanied by open flame, most of the time there was nothing to indicate any real danger.

“Do not be fooled by the lack of ‘telltale signs,’” the fire department warns. “These ‘dead wires’ can be energized at any time.

“The power lines coming into Eagle Bay are carrying approximately 14,000 volts. FOURTEEN THOUSAND VOLTS. Each of the uppermost wires. The silver coloured wires that HAVE NO INSULATION. 14K each. And there is usually NO WAY OF KNOWING whether or not the line is energized.”

BC Hydro advises keeping a distance of 10 metres (33 feet) from downed or damaged lines and dialing 911 to inform that a line is down and/or damaged.

“So if a tree is touching the wire, you need to stay that minimum distance away from the tree,” cautions the fire department. “Occasionally, the wires may land on something that will conduct electricity great distances such as a wire or metal fence, a steel building or metal pipes.”

On Dec. 31, Eagle Bay firefighters were doing emergency traffic control at the scene of “wires down ” across from the road from Eagle Bay Mercantile.

“After several hours, the wire that was now buried in snow came to life and put on a pretty good show –humming, buzzing, snapping, dancing. The asphalt actually caught on fire underneath the snow.

“It was a great wake up call for us to never let our guard down on these ‘routine calls.’”

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