When the power went out on Monday, November 7, Nakusp had a couple of flickers in its supply, New Denver lost power for nearly three hours, and one person had to have their modem replaced.
For the person who felled the tree that hit the power line, the consequences could have been a whole lot worse.
“The outage was caused by an individual cutting firewood near the power lines, which resulted in a tree contacting the power line…this is a serious safety issue,” BC Hydro representative Jen Walker-Larsen confirmed to the Arrow Lakes News.
In this case, the unknown logger is unbelievably lucky to be alive.
“A tree does not need to come in contact with the power line to be dangerous,” Walker-Larsen related via email, “A tree in close proximity to a power line can cause electricity to arc and travel to the ground at the base of the tree, putting the individual who is cutting the tree at a high risk of death.”
Even though he escaped with his skin intact, the lives of the loggers aren’t the only possible cost when a tree hits the lines.
“ Individuals causing power outages can be charged and billed the cost of repairs,” wrote the Hydro rep., so even if a firewood collector foolhardy enough to cut near the lines doesn’t get electrocuted, they could be facing a serious financial hit.
In this case, there was no damage to the line, but Walker-Larsen told the Arrow Lakes News “the line had to be deenergized before the crew could clear the felled tree.”
The BC Hydro representative also mentioned that trees being eyed by prospective firewood collectors may or may not be on Crown Land.
“Many BC Hydro rights of way are actually on private land and customers must be sure they do not trespass,” cautioned Walker-Larsen.
In order to legally cut trees, “individuals must obtain a permit from Ministry of Forests and Range to cut firewood and must adhere to the terms of that permit,” she said, and it is up to the tree-cutter to ensure that the land is Crown or private.
“If a permit refers generically to BC Hydro right of way, it is important for the customer to ensure that they cut on Crown Land,” she detailed.
“Electrical safety is paramount,” Walker-Larsen stressed, “Do not cut any tree near a power line corridor unless you can ensure positive directional fall away from the corridor and the wires. At no time can trees, equipment, tools or your body come within six metres of any part of the electrical system.”
Firewood shouldn’t cost you your life.