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Sad story raises a question #186264 04/29/09 01:37 PM
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 613
mikesh Offline OP

I hope this link works. It tells a story about an apparent electrocution of a small girl in Austin Texas. The story portrays the hazard in peoples homes etc. The reporters get a neighbour to comment on electrical safety and I am concerned about a couple of points as well as the general tone of the report.
First the service conductors are implicated. They feed a 1 story house and are connected at 10 feet according to the report. Canadian Code for a new service located in a area accessible to pedestrians would require 11 1/2 feet (3.5 meters) The story stated current code would require 14 feet. Does the NEC require 14 foot clearance for this area? No driveway or access to cars. The wires are clearly out of reach regardless of code requirements but the story does not even broach how a small girl makes contact. Anyone from Austin can comment from a Qualified perspective? I hate to read these stories and I hate the reports even more since they are generally written to arouse emotion and sell air time.

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Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: mikesh] #186265 04/29/09 01:50 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,571
gfretwell Offline
There does seem to be something missing in this story.
What was the fault path?
I do find it interesting they call these triplexes "uninsulated". How do they manage that wink
From the video

[Linked Image from]

I do agree most AHJs would want those service conductors on a mast above the roof line to get better ground clearance.

Greg Fretwell
Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: gfretwell] #186266 04/29/09 07:33 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 790
wa2ise Offline
Looks like the kid climbed up atop the fence, probably next to the house, and maybe one hand steadying herself on the brick wall of the house, and the other hand reaching up to a hot conductor (maybe some bare conductor near a splice?)? The brick may have been wet from rain, and that may provide enough of a fault current path... Or she was grabbing the conduit.

The kid probably didn't realize that there was a hazard. She probably knew not to stick paper clips into outlets, but she probably didn't realize that those wires were associated with the outlets.

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: wa2ise] #186267 04/29/09 09:15 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
You know ... this thread is unique in that I actually wrote an earlier reply - then censored my comments. It's pretty easy to get side-tracked.

Let's just say that some folks will let neither logic nor fact get in the way of their complaining. It's always someone else's fault, someone else OWES them ....

Such attitudes are a direct threat on those of us who actually DO something for a living. How would you like to be held to account for something you did 40+ years ago. using criteria that didn't exist then?

Sometimes I think the inmates ARE running the asylum.

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: renosteinke] #186268 04/29/09 10:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 457
Jim M Offline

I had some very strong thoughts too. Yes it is sad they lost a child. However, the install sounds like it was in compliance when installed. Why should the installers or the POCO be held potentially liable? The drivel spouted by the neighbors was distasteful. How long was the neighborhood canvased to get those people to point fingers away from the true cause?

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: Jim M] #186271 04/29/09 10:52 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,571
gfretwell Offline
I still don't have an opinion. The triplex is not my first guess. Maybe she caught a weird combination of the brick wall and the little bit of conductor that might have exposed by those splices but I would still expect that to be a "fall" injury.
We are missing something here.

Greg Fretwell
Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: gfretwell] #186274 04/30/09 10:15 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 853
leland Offline
Very sad indeed. But a true accident.
I feel as stated above,that a lack of education on ALL electrical in a home is partly at fault.
The system has been there since the 70s',with out incident.age of system may play a role.For the trees,private property,owners responsibility to notify POCO or get trimming done.

Along with fire safety,smoke detectors,safe meeting place and the use of 911. Most if not all families miss this part.

Blame? None,ignorance to the industry and it's standards makes those comments.
Here (Mass) those installs typically run up the rakes to the ridge,SE or conduit.

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: leland] #186275 04/30/09 12:59 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
SteveFehr Offline
"The power lines police believe that killed Cecilia hang just a few feet above the 6 foot fence where Bonilla found her." Is this the missing piece of information?

I don't think people realize those lines only carry 120V, or that they're insulated. They don't look degraded in those photos, either. Is the stay wire energized?

Also, incident happened Saturday, this news piece came out Monday. I bet when the autopsy is performed, they found out her death was not electrocution and completely unrelated to the power lines. Except that nobody bothered to report this story after that. Unless it turned out to be swine flu, in which case, don't worry, you WILL hear an update!

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: SteveFehr] #186278 04/30/09 01:34 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 457
Jim M Offline
I wonder how the cost to fix this 'problem' got to be $4-7K.

Re: Sad story raises a question [Re: Jim M] #186280 04/30/09 03:35 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,571
gfretwell Offline
Jim, I wondered that too. I see the tasks as cutting the drop at the service point, removing the existing SE, installing a mast, new SE from the service point to the meter can and the PoCo reattaching the drop from the eave to the mast (if the electrician isn't doing that). A couple of guys in a bucket truck, with the right training and tools should be doing several a day. I don't know about the job situation in Texas but I can't believe this is more than a grand a house, total. In bulk it should be cheaper.
Granted, that might as well be a million for most of the residents in that neighborhood. Times are tough for a lot of people.
Trimming the trees should already be in the PoCo's scope of work.
I am with Steve on this tho, until we know exactly how this girl died, there may not really be anything that needs to be done.

Greg Fretwell
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