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Posted February 1, 2012 | comments 6 Comments

Semi mishap cuts town power

Tractor-trailer driver charged with two traffic offenses after truck snags wire

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- A tractor-trailer driver was charged with two traffic offenses after his truck snagged a utility wire on Tuesday, causing lines and poles to snap and sparking a small house fire.

David Ferrell, 50, of North Carolina, was trying to turn the tractor-trailer right onto South Funk Street from East King Street shortly before noon, Strasburg police officer Matt Moats said. The truck's wheel caught the guide wire of a telephone pole, he said.

"Pulling that one guide wire caused the pole to break, which caused several other poles to experience tension and that caused the other poles to break as well," Moats said.

The top of one utility pole snapped and landed on George Andrew's house on the corner of King Street. Wires caught fire on his porch.

He stood and watched across the street with neighbors as his porch smoldered.

Firefighters could not tackle the fire until the power lines were shut off. Poles on both sides of King Street were snapped, and the top half of another tilted at a precarious angle.

"The power flickered off and on, and then we got up to see, and my husband looked out the window and saw the pole laying in the road," said Dawn Cummings, who lives across the street from Andrews.

She said they saw smoke coming off of Andrews' house.

"We were hollering for George to come outside," Cummings said. "It started off as a small little smolder, like a cigarette smoke-like thing."

Andrews said he'd been in his kitchen reading the Bible.

"I heard it," he said. "It slammed, bam, bang. Then I looked out, and there's the pole."
Andrews' nephew, James Huff, lives nearby and hurried to the home.

"I just know the electric went out," he said. "[I thought], 'Oh, my gosh, it's my uncle's house.' My grandma said get him out of there."

Huff said Andrews was still in the house, and he told a police officer.

At one point, small flames flared on the porch, but firefighters quickly moved to extinguish them.

"We had to wait a few minutes for the power company to secure the power before we could make entry," Assistant Strasburg Fire Chief Doug Miller said.

Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue Operations Chief Tim Williams said the line carried 12,000 volts.

"That's quite a lot, he said. "They had to secure the power before they could actually attack the fire because water is conductive."

Ferrell had to stay in his cab for quite some time because of the danger of a line on the tractor.

Miller said he thought Andrews would be able to return to the home. Andrews said he's lived there for 20 years.

"It got inside a little bit," Miller said. "It went up into the attic. Electricity just went around the outside of the house. It burnt some of the roof rafters."

About 1,400 customers were left without power, according to an email from Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-operative spokesman Mike Aulgur. He expected all customers to have service restored by midnight Tuesday.

Aulgur said three poles -- each with three circuits -- had to be replaced by crews.

6 Comments | Leave a comment

    I bet he will not listen to His GPS next time

    Not the first time I've heard the comment that he must have been following his GPS...doesn't matter if GPS tells you to turn, if there is a sign (which there is at that intersection) stating NO TRUCKS, he should not have turned there, period! If my GPS told me to make a turn onto a closed road, I'd use my brain and not make a turn. I wonder if the driver and/or his company will be financially responsible for the polls and lines that had to be replaced, the damages to Mr. Andrew's home, the many man hours for all the people involved in the aftermath, the lost revenues of the many businesses effected by not having power, the lost food of all the residents that didn't have power to refrigerate on a 70' day ect.?

    Thanks to the Daily for keeping us updated about the power situation. My efforts with Shenandoah Valley Electrical Cooperative were futile. I called just before 7pm to see if there was an estimated time when they thought the power might be back on only to be told "our records indicate your power is on." The persons I dealt with were uninformed, unhelpful and just plain nasty. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, I was told "lady call back during normal business hours - I'm busy." Really?

      That's the Co-Op for you. They know they have no competition, so they can be as worthless as they'd like. Much like other ShenCo Monopolies....

      totally understand what you are saying about svec.we have been trying to get peoples pilights out there but censorship by the daily will not print it cudos for the daily finally posting the truth about svec.in my opinion svec is nothing but crooks with a so called non profit status to hide behind.

      91664...I can totally relate....back in the day, I was on the "good side" of the system, in another state; I was the one in my county that granted folks their heating and cooling assistance, so they could "survive." There's been ALOT of power outages lately.....alot of house fires; I watched a transformer spark twice and made two LOUD bangs, a few mo. ago...we had no power for about 5 hours....didn't seem to be any "explanation" for it.....this company that is supposed to "serve" and protect us, seems to be on the "lax" side of things, in my opinion...outrageous deposits, double payments, along w grant money for heating and cooling...then sending payments off to a P.O. Box, that isn't even local and IS NOT serviced by this so-called "COOP." How much more has to happen to folks, especially the ones that are in poverty and the elderly, before something changes? In my opinion, there needs to be MANY changes, to accomodate "us"....the people that pay their wages and keep them going...too bad they're the only "game" in town, so to speak. Sorry, just had to vent about this...I believe in "preventative" methods. We all need to stand together. Safety in numbers! Change happens when everyone that is upset, speaks up and takes a stand! TY, sincerely, Cornstalker....we pay our bill on time...sure would like our deposit back now; it's been 15 mo. now. Why should they get paid twice...first w grant money from local agencies and then the COOP requesting MORE money, out of pocket. Where is our money going? A "set" amount for a deposit is at the top of the list....and proper meter reading would be a good thing, as well. That way, we can all "actually" pay for what we're "really" using in power; not something "made up," in my opinion. Have a good evening everyone.


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