Today while I was at work, I found myself looking out the window (undoubtedly trying to sort our a vexing technical problem) when I noticed something odd. Do you see it?

Utility pole with a burning ember

Look closer!

There was a small light on the utility pole. This particular utility pole was installed just last week, and as you can see, they placed it within one foot of an existing pole, and I wish I had watched them do that too – they threaded the new pole right between the existing power lines. Methinks they are going to pluck the old one out soon.

Today a crew showed up and blocked off half the parking lot. Then they began digging a ditch across the lot in which to lay electrical lines. They’re remodeling the Concord Food Co-op, and apparently, that involves putting in a new electrical entrance.

They dug this ditch right up to the poles, and I think that may have destabilized the new one just a tad. Or maybe it destabilized the old one. The net effect was that the new pole was now touching the hot wire. Let’s zoom in!

Fire in the pole!

Fire in the pole!


When I figured out that the light was a burning ember, I decided to go across the street and inform the construction crew. But I must confess that since it was such a tiny little fire, I paused to take a picture or two first. Then I put on my hat and coat and went over.

“Excuse me!”
“Yeah?”
“Your utility pole is on fire.”
“Huh? Oh, hey! I can see the smoke!”
“Can you guys take care of that, or should I call the fire department?”
“I’ll tell the foreman – he can decide what to do. Thanks!”
“You’re welcome.”

So Concord did not burn to the ground today. Surely it would have had I not sprung into action (after taking a few pictures).

Within five minutes a utility crew arrived.

To the rescue!

To the rescue!


They’re almost as fast as the fire department. A guy got in the bucket and slid some sleeves over the wires. As soon as he broke contact between the wire and the pole, the fire went out all by its own self. He moved a splice down the wire a bit and left the sleeve in place. I guess that took them all of 30 minutes.

Fixin' the wires

Fixin' the wires


One thing I can say about these guys. They earn their money. I did not envy either the utility guys or the crew laying the new wire under the parking lot, as it was cold and drizzly all day. All I had to do was report a small problem.