Wendell fire cuts power for over 500 during polar vortex

mhankerson@newsobserver.comJanuary 10, 2014 

— A downed power line and a small brush fire left over 500 residents without power near Rolesville Road in Wendell early Tuesday morning in below-freezing temperatures.

Around 5:20 a.m., Wendell Fire Department responded to a call about the fire, which was caused by the power line.

“It wasn’t a big one, (it was about) one-third to half an acre,” Wendell fire chief Brian Staples sad. “(We were) able to get it out pretty quick; the biggest issue was the power outage.”

Staples said it was about 11 degrees when his team arrived so it was a priority to keep firefighters as dry as possible and put out the fire as quickly as possible.

“We're real mindful to get those guys back inside of back in the truck,” he said. “Just like anybody else, we don’t want to be out there too long.”

Firefighters put out the fire in about 10 minutes and then stayed on scene until Duke Progress Energy came to handle the power line.

Although Duke representative Meghan Lynn Musgrave said the company’s resources have been “scattered and isolated” throughout the state, Staples said someone arrived to handle the line quickly on Tuesday morning.

There were outages across the state that required attention and it was difficult to keep up with all of them, Musgrave said.

Duke has been dealing with the elements that are part of the polar vortex, a weather system bringing uncharacteristically low temperatures around the county. With that has come several power outages.

As of Wednesday morning, Duke had 51 reported outages that affected 655 customers.

In addition to dealing with outages, Duke hit the highest usage in the Carolinas since December 2010 as of Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Duke Energy Carolinas reported 20,246 megawatt-hours was used. In December 2010, the peak usage was at 18,985 megawatt-hours.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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