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Fallen wire sparks fires at two homes in Atwater

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ATWATER -- An Xcel Energy ground wire that became frayed from rubbing against overhanging trees snapped early Saturday evening and caused minor fire damage at two Atwater homes.

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Atwater Fire Chief Gerald Schwartz said the ground wire had "worn out over the years" from being too close to tree branches. When the wire snapped, it flipped over the live electrical wires and was drug over the Mediacom cable lines.

Schwartz said 7,200 volts of electricity traveled through the overhead Mediacom lines, delivering a high-volt charge to the cable boxes on the exterior of the homes.

The boxes caught on fire and melted the siding of the houses, according to Schwartz.

One house was located on Second Street and the other on Wyoming Avenue.

The Fire Department cordoned off a street and the alley where the live wire was down until Xcel crews could make necessary repairs.

Schwartz said downed electrical lines are very serious and can cause severe burns and even death. He was pleased no one was injured and that property damage was minimal.

Fire crews were called to the scene at about 4:50 p.m. and were there for more than two hours.

Schwartz said his crews walked a four-block area, checking on homes to make sure the electrical jolt had not traveled to other houses. The Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City North Elementary School was also surveyed to make sure there was no damage there.

"We walked around everything," he said.

Damage was estimated at $2,500 at each home. The electrical fire "made a terrible smell," but the residents were not prevented from using their homes, said Schwartz.

The fires were small and were put out with small fire extinguishers.

Schwartz said Xcel trimmed branches in the alley and will be trimming more tree branches in other areas to prevent similar situations from happening again.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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