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Downed Line Spark Fires

A truck hauling a large piece of logging equipment snagged power lines above Lime Kiln Road and Armistead Circle, snapping a power pole, bringing down lines and sparking a grass fire.

The blaze burnt on both sides of Lime Kiln Road near the Mountain Springs Golf Course and knocked power out for a number of residents just before six o´clock. Fire officials said the fires consumed about 2 acres.

Resident Dave Pilkington described what he saw and heard. “It was a loud pop or a bang sound,” he said. “We saw the flames. I knew our neighbor´s well was right there so we came down, but it was too hot.” The fire trucks arrived moments later.

CDF Battalion Chief Richard Imlach said the big rig was hauling a piece of logging equipment for Sierra Resource Management to Sonora from Garderville, Nevada. The driver was given wrong directions to get to the Sierra Pacific mill, Imlach said.

The machinery clipped the telephone cable which was a lot lower than the power lines, Imlach explained. “He didn´t have an extremely high load, but it was just enough to catch it and rip everything down,” he said. The power pole was snapped in two. When that happened the power went out immediately, Pilkington said. “The bad thing about when the power goes out it is you lose everything, including water.”

Imlach said the power lines came down on both sides of Lime Kiln and started two separate fires.”It looks like it was that initial hit from the energized lines that started the fire and they probably kicked off their fuses.”

Fire officials beleive the power lines were not energized after they set off the fires, which is a lucky thing. “As many lines that are draping over the barbed wire fence is extremely dangerous because they can energize the metal fence for quite a distance down and people wouldn´t even know it.”

The California Highway Patrol had Lime Kiln Road closed to traffic at Armistead Circle for more than two hours while firefighters put out the blaze and PG and E crews got the lines off the road and power restored.