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Treecutter knocks electric transformer into other trees on Tuesday afternoon
Treecutter knocks electric transformer into other trees on Tuesday afternoon

Waynesville firefighters responded Tuesday to a treecutting gone bad that knocked a transformer into other trees.
BUCKHORN, Mo. (July 9, 2009) — Waynesville firefighters had to deal with an electric transformer that became tangled in tree limbs and cable telephone wires after an effort to cut down a tree went awry.

Fire Chief Doug Yurecko said his firefighters received a call shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday reporting that workers trying to cut down a tree in a residential back yard just outside the Waynesville city limits had knocked a transformer off its electric pole.

Laclede Electric Cooperative personnel sent an emergency crew to the site on Ranger Lane off Highway 17 near Buckhorn Bowling Alley; Waynesville firefighters sent an engine and five firefighters. While those responding wore the proper emergency equipment and took appropriate precautions, Yurecko warned that no one should try to cut down trees unless they’re trained to do so.

“You have to really know what you’re doing when you’re cutting down trees,” Yurecko said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it … If it hadn’t hit the transformer, it could have hit a house; it could have fallen on the individual trying to cut the tree down.”

Dealing with downed or damaged electric lines is even more dangerous, Yurecko warned.

“We always wait until Laclede Electric or the city utilities get on the scene,” Yurecko said. “We treat all wires that are on the ground as live until we’re notified by the electric company that it is de-energized and that has to be in person, and then we have to watch them move the wires first.”

Some people think wood won’t conduct electricity. That’s not always true depending on conditions, Yurecko said, especially with live branches.

“If a tree makes contact with the wires, even if it doesn’t knock the wire down, the tree could be energized,” Yurecko said. “It’s a really good easy way to get killed.”

Yurecko said he’s seen two people killed by live power lines in his career as a firefighter, and a half-dozen have been hurt in recent years.

“We treat power lines pretty cautiously; they’re very dangerous,” Yurecko said. “It doesn’t take very much to electrocute a person.”

That’s part of why firefighters don’t enter a burning home until they’re able to shut off the power.

“You really never know what’s energized in a building; a fire can cause a lot of different things to be energized,” Yurecko said.

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