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Live Power Line Downed by Thunderstorm Ignites House, Shed and Utility Pole on Patton Ave

Mon July 11 2011 6:26 pm
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VIDEO: ComEd kills the power, and Arlington Heights firefighters extinguish a shed fire, after carefully stopping a fire at the house on the same lot that was energized by a down powerline.

A downed power line caused a surge that fed excessive electricity into a ranch house in the 800 block of North Patton Avenue. The surge arced around gutters and fascia of the house, and ignited material under the siding of the house. First downed power lines caused problems at the home about 9:30 a.m. Monday just after high winds brought tree branches and power lines down. Firefighters were overhauling a small fire, and then stood by until ComEd responded to the scene. Firefighters knew the line was live or energized and witnessed intense arcing.

At about 10:15 a.m. the arcing ignited a utility pole, which began to burn upward to about 20 feet. The fire was visible from the streets on all sides. Eventually a shed started to burn in the backyard of the home in the 800 block of North Patton Avenue. An electric surge occurred about 10:30 a.m. which sent power back to the stricken house again. A ring of arcing was witnessed around the house near the gutter. There were two surges with intense arcing, and then building material under the siding in the back of the house near the point were the power line attaches to the house began to burn. Firefighters pulled off siding and fascia. And hit the fire with minimal water to avoid contacting energized areas of the house.

Meanwhile, the shed continued to burn; but firefighters could not hit it with water because of the live wires down on the ground near the shed. ComEd arrived about 10:40 a.m. Monday and immediately cut the power. A ComEd worker told firefighters it was safe to hit the shed with water, but warned not to “lay on” the water because there was potential for backfeed on the powerline because the situation was not grounded before the dropped line.

One crew hit the exterior of the shed and another crew hit the interior of the shed after opening the door. The fire was extinguished in less than ten minutes.

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