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Power cut after damaged utility pole catches fire in Warwick

A utility pole in a Warwick neighbourhood was snapped in two during Hurricane Lee after its transformer caught on fire overnight (Photograph by Sekou Hendrickson)

A utility pole that caught fire and later split in two during Hurricane Lee has cut power to a Warwick neighbourhood.

Belco crews examined the utility pole on Dunscombe Road, near its intersection with South Road in Warwick, to assess the damage and clear away any oil spilt from the transformer.

A 33-year-old resident, who asked not to be named, said that he saw the transformer catch fire overnight, only to find it hanging from the pole the following morning.

He said: “It was bright and sputtering, flickering on and off.

“It was like someone just flicked the daytime on.”

The resident, whose house stood right next to the downed pole, said that his power went out at around 9pm last night after about two hours of low voltage.

He began to hear some “light crackling” shortly after the electricity was cut and then saw sparks shower out of the nearby transformer.

He said: “It started to light up, really start crackling, and then it caught on fire.

“Then I heard this snapping sound and I realised later that must have been when the pole snapped in two.

“It was quite intense.”

The man, who lives with his wife and two-year-old son, went straight to the bedroom with his family and attempted to wait out the surge.

He did not think emergency services would be able to fix the power line until after the storm.

He wanted to make sure his family was in a room furthest from the pole to avoid the chance of electrocution.

The resident said: “My son was fine – the iPad was turned on so he didn’t care – but my wife was terrified and I wasn’t too comfortable.”

The fire ended at around 1am after the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service came to put the flames out.

The resident was able to survey the damage the next morning. “I realised we’re not going to have power for at least two or three days,” he said.

The man, who has lived in the area on and off his entire life, said that it was not unusual for this utility pole to go down in a storm.

He explained that because it was positioned on a hill and had no trees or tall buildings near it, it was exposed to harsh winds that snapped it easily.

Despite this, the man said that he was very impressed by the quick response from the fire service and, later, Belco.

He said: “I felt it was a really good response, especially since they came out during an active hurricane.

“I know that Lee has passed its closest point to us so it’s only going to get safer but I think the guys at the fire service and who work for Belco definitely deserve a thumbs-up for their service.

“I’m actually impressed. It really warms the heart to see that there’s activity towards resolving these issues.”

Wayne Caines, the president of Belco, who was at the site of the downed pole, said that crews were assessing the damage and would later determine what needed to be replaced.

He did not say how long repairs would take or how long residents could be out of power.

But Mr Caines said that this sort of damage was to be expected, particularly this late into hurricane season.

He said: “This is the third storm of the month – it’s hard on the infrastructure.”

Mr Caines warned the public to stay away from downed power lines in their areas and to report them by calling 295-5111.

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Published September 16, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated September 16, 2023 at 7:33 am)

Power cut after damaged utility pole catches fire in Warwick

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