Electrical pole fire raises concern over downed wire
Firefighters closed a portion of Santa Fe St. on Thursday after an electrical pole caught fire near Countryside Feed.
Closing the street was a precaution in case one of the guy wires fell, Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee said.
“That was one of our main causes of concern,” he said. “The guy wire was still up, and if the pole was burning, pretty soon that guy wire was going to drop. We were afraid it might go across the power lines, go phase-to-phase and arc up.”
Steketee’s concern proved well-founded, as the guy wire ended up falling while Santa Fe St. was closed.
Despite the potential hazard for passers-by, there wasn’t much actual fire to put out, Steketee said.
“By the time I got there, I didn’t see much fire at all,” he said. “The pole was still burning, but just a little at the top of the pole that remained.”
Steketee originally thought the pole may have been struck by lightning, but his assistant chief said it was likely caused by electrical tracking.
“If lightning were to hit it would probably be on top of the pole, and the top of the pole would catch fire,” he said. “This was below the cross arm, right above the guy wire. That was his suspicion, and I tend to believe him.”
Electrical tracking often occurs when dust or other debris gathers on the crossarm of an electrical pole, and the dust becomes a conductor for electricity when it rains.
Businesses in Hillsboro’s industrial park had power shut off for seven hours until power was restored by Evergy.
“Container Services, Inc. and Barkman Honey both, they use a lot of electricity,” Steketee said. “That was quite a hit for them.”
Last modified May 14, 2020