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Monday, 23 July 2007 19:00


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Author - Steve "The Lineman" Williams!

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Not looking where ya going, But going where ya looked!!

It all started during a lightning storm1 Our crew received a couple of calls about power outage in town and a report of a line down on Hwy 104. I responded to the report of a line down on 104 and when I arrived I discovered that a 7200 volt primary line belonging to a different power company had broken (lightning) from an insulator on a C-1 (three phase) pole. The line was feeding from the west and the fallen line was still energized! about 30 foot of the line had fallen on top of some brush and was burning down through it towards a barbed wired fence that at the time was in about 2 foot of flowing storm water! The line was appx. 15 ft. off the road edge and the police had stationed themselves on the Northeast side of the hwy about 300 feet away. I took position on the Southwest side of the road to ensure that no one approached the line until the other power company sent one of their crews to shut off the downed line1 Traffic continued to flow along the hwy. As I was talking to my foreman via the radio a Chevy pickup truck passed my vehicle going East, the driver didn't pay attention to the car in front of him as he was looking at the smoking line. The car in front of him slowed quickly and he slammed on his brakes! He lost control and ran into the ditch full of the flowing storm water right in the middle of the section of downed line coming to a stop about 1 foot from the power line! I jumped out of the truck and ran down the road shouting to the driver to stay inside his vehicle! I got there just as he was about to get out! I told him that if he got out that he would get shocked and would DIE! He asked what he should do! I told him to shut the door and wait until we told him it was safe to come out! About this time The police car arrived behind me and the whole world light up!!! Can you imagine appx. 20 to 30 ft. of 7200 volt line grounding out on a barbed wire fence surrounded with water! Wow! I dove into the open drivers window of the police car and shouted "Go Go!" The cop pulled away real fast into a safe zone! I got back on the radio and informed my foreman and leading man what had occurred! The foreman stated that he had called the other power company and that they were on the way! The line was still hot, no jacks on that line only substation breakers as I later found out! The downed line continued to flare up every 30 to 40 seconds or a minute or so! The leading man arrived on the scene and parked directly across from the pickup in the ditch, I got some rain coats from him and suggested that he move from where he was (he hadn't seen it flare up yet!) I then retreated back to where my truck was parked and gave my crew some rain gear and we continued to divert traffic away from the area involved! About that time the line flared up big time and you should have seen the leading man move! he didn't waste anytime getting away from there! What a sight! Finally after about 15 minutes a truck from the other power company drove by? Didn't stop just drove by! (I found out he was going to the substation to open the breakers! Within minutes the line stopped smoking and myself and the police chief approached the pickup truck (staying on the road!) and talked to the man inside. (We had earlier noticed him talking to someone inside the truck - the hood and fenders of his truck were burnt badly) I asked him if he was alright, he said yes and I said "bet you are gonna have to change your shorts when you get out" He replied "I don't have time, I talking to the LORD" A couple of minutes later another of their power company's trucks drove by, the one coming after him didn't get by as the police chief stopped them and told them that they were to stay on scene as it was their line and not ours! I then told the driver of the pickup that only the these guys from this power company were going to tell him when it was safe to get out! Not anyone else! The Police chief said "that's right get out only when they tell you it is safe! Well shortly thereafter more crews from the other power company arrived and we left to tend to our problems, but not before the driver thanked me for saving his life! Glad I could help and no one got hurt! My eyes had the flashes burned into them for a long time though!

Steve "The Lineman" Williams!

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