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Tree toast

Posted By: OreElect

Tree toast - 10/07/09 06:27 AM
Posted By: electure

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 03:01 PM

The morons that filmed this seem to be quite happy about this tree.

"Better than the 4th of July". "There's like 440,000 volts up there." There's laughter throughout the video.

They apparently didn't call 911 to report the incident, from the statement that "the Fire Department will hear that" (when the arc finally trips the circuit, before the reclosers kick in ) close to the end of the film.

I don't think that their mirth is warranted.

Posted By: mamills

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 03:41 PM

Out of the mouths of idiots...

I'm surprised that some of these brain trusts didn't try to climb the tree to get a better view.

These $#%##$-for-brains are the "future of our country"...?
God help us all.

Mike (mamills)
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 05:24 PM

The story accompanying this video - as first posted at claims that several calls had been made to 911. When questioned afterwards, the call center claimed that they did not dispatch fire trucks to 'arcing power line' calls, just notified the PoCo. It seems none of the callers actually said "there are flames," so there was no fire department response.

Hopping into the 'wayback' machine, to a time before the fire ... On a calm day I would not have thought the tree was a threat to the lines. I've certainly seen much worse.

I had a service change where my first thought was 'that tree is a problem.' To give you an idea, here is the tree after trimming. Note how close it is to the pole:
[Linked Image from]

The trimming crew had to leave one log behind. Note how the tree grew around the guy wire:
[Linked Image from]

Finally, cheerfully stolen from another site, here is a pic of an ugly, but safely trimmed tree:
[Linked Image from]

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 05:45 PM

The fire department was not going to get near that until the PoCo verified that the power was off so you might as well sit down and watch the show.
We all sat in a bar on the 2d floor and watched a downed 4100v (13.2?) primary boil all the water out of a puddle in the Keys many years ago and all the GD did was be sure nobody got close. Once the PoCo got there and deenergized it the FD hosed the place down and put out all the shrubs that were burning.
It was more exciting than that tree.
I do agree the PoCo should have trimmed that tree long ago. After Charlie they went around and gave all the trees a pretty good haircut in SW Florida, at least the ones that had not already gone down.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 06:28 PM

Nice pictures. I have seen trimming like that but the usual thing here is they simply crop them below the level of the power line so no matter how hard the wind blows it won't hit.
They strongly recommend the tree be removed.
I have a royal palm that is getting too big and I am afraid to screw with it since the roots are also into the underground wiring. I will probably have to kill it and let it rot away.
Posted By: mikesh

Re: Tree toast - 10/07/09 10:28 PM

Originally Posted by electure
The morons that filmed this seem to be quite happy about this tree.

"Better than the 4th of July". "There's like 440,000 volts up there." There's laughter throughout the video.

They apparently didn't call 911 to report the incident, from the statement that "the Fire Department will hear that" (when the arc finally trips the circuit, before the reclosers kick in ) close to the end of the film.

I don't think that their mirth is warranted.

Man that is harsh. They were smart enough not to go over there and get electrocuted and burned too. So a guy videotapes a tree hitting a wire and you call him a moron? Is he a moron for staying back? Is he a moron for not calling the fire department who couldn't do a darn thing about it until the circuit was finally dead? They did comment that there was no property in immediate danger nor people.
I thought it was pretty cool that they taped most of it except for a brief moment where it exploded and they ducked. I heard sirens in the background and possibly they believed the FD was coming.

Frankly I think the fact that they stayed back is good even if they didn't put out the fire and trip out the fault and rescue a cat up the pole.

I just don't see what they needed to do that had to be done right that moment. As long as the power was flowing there was nothing anyone should have done besides watch the fun and stand back.

I am more than eager to hear what you think they could have done to make them appear like not morons.

Your an electrician and I'd love to hear what you would have done that was smarter than standing back or calling 911. Frankly I did not see anything that was a life or death emergency beyond the fire which was not threatening anyone or even property below. I'd say the biggest morons were the tree trimmers and huggers that would prevent those trees from being topped.

OK I will start breathing now.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 02:02 AM

Mikesh, there's some merit to what you say. To be fair, though, "Break" didn't post the back-story with the tape, amd edited out some somments when they trimmed it for length.

As for the tree-huggers .... in the tree I showed, 'trimmed' at the 6ft. level .... the city began to get upset that one of the town's precious trees (it was privately owned, on private property) had been removed without going through the mandatory extended hearings, permits, etc. I simply replied that the tree was cut on PoCo instructions, that it posed a danger to the public welfare, and was illegal to begin with. The City actually had to spend a few moments 'considering' this before dropping the matter.
So, yes, the tree-huggers share some of the blame for this reluctance to do necessary trimming. Folks plant and plant and plant - forgetting that these things keep growing.
Posted By: electure

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 02:56 AM

Originally Posted by mikesh
Is he a moron for staying back? Is he a moron for not calling the fire department who couldn't do a darn thing about it until the circuit was finally dead? They did comment that there was no property in immediate danger nor people.

No they're not morons for what they did do.

They're morons for what they didn't do. 911 has a direct line to the PoCo for reporting incidents like this. The FD would have certainly rolled on a tree ablaze, and the police could be called to secure the area.
That's from just 1 call to 911. They never called throughout the taping.

As an electrician, I certainly wouldn't have been laughing throughout the video, would you?

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 04:29 AM

From the original news story:

"The Bellingham Fire Department says it got a call of arcing wires and passed that information on to Puget Sound Energy.

Asst. Fire Chief Roger Christensen said the department doesn't typically respond to call of arcing wires unless flames are also reported. In this case, the spokesman said, nobody did."
Posted By: noderaser

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 05:22 AM

Didn't look like there was much in terms of flames after the power cut out... I'm assuming that was mostly steam and not smoke as you can hear it boiling through the bark at points in the video.

Had a 4" limb from a neighbor's tree fall on the primary a few years back... Not much in terms of flames, but the line did cut about halfway through the limb before the power was cut. The tree survived, although it was trimmed a little nicer after the incident.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 08:02 AM

I'd like to put my own opinion to this thread.

After having done 20 years as a Fire Officer, I would back electure up (not because he is a Moderator here or anything like that).

The simple fact of the matter is, the initial call to the emergency services was not made!

In any situation like that over here, a "heads-up" is all it takes to get some sort of a response started.

Yet these clowns stood there and continued to record video footage.

It is sites like this and YouTube that encourage people to get their camera or phone camera out and forget about reality, the reality of it is, someone should be notified that this is going on, even though Mr Great Camera Guy is getting the footage.

Just as a note, Break actually pays people to get stuff like this.

On the side of reality, we do respond to anything involving power lines arcing and trees meeting them, we can stand back, but at least we are there on the fire-ground, at a safe distance.

Let's be real about this whole scenario.
Posted By: mikesh

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 06:46 PM

Would I marvel at the power? absolutely, it is so rare that we ever get to see what power is available. I have witnessed a HV line that touched the ground and smiled in excitement over the scene. I only made sure that the people did not stare at the light and kept well back but I don't recall who called the fire department except a police car was first on scene and he got closer than I would have which I told him. That was a case where a guy in a hardhat was influential enough to get a cop to move.
Would I call 911? yes if there is a phone available. I am guessing these "morons" had a phone close by.
I am delighted that someone recorded it and posted it. That video could become a very valuable resource and had they not just sat there and taped it we would not be debating their intelligence. I do agree there is a lack of civic minded-ness in society and we truly are in a me only world. That is another debate. I still think that labelling them morons for taping the incident is irrelevant but I agree them not calling the FD is indicative of a greater problem and for that I will accept they could have shown a little more UN-common sense.
A few years ago there was a video of a transformer fire beside a golf course. Most of the videos showed the last few minutes before the transformer exploded but at least 1 copy showed almost 15 minutes of people strolling past the substation on to their next hole. Any of those people would have been severely burned had their timing been worse. Those people were morons as they did not seem to even acknowledge the arcing as a hazard. these morons at least stayed far enough away.
I live in a garden city and I am more than aware of how hard it is to trim the trees to prevent these occurrences. I lived in a condo that had 3 cedars planted within 3 meters of the building and were growing above the roof and roots into the grade level suites and the water proof membrane in the electrical room and garage. I was on council and every year we would recommend the removal of these trees as they were causing so much damage at the ground and at the roof too. For 3 years the strata voted to pay the damages and keep the trees. I moved out of that building and it was 3 more years until they finally relented once the new roof had to be replaced again.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Tree toast - 10/08/09 08:48 PM

Mikesh, you've hit on something here ... as has 'electure' with his comments. This is: the failure to respond appropriately to an emergency situation.

To respond properly, first you have to recognize that there IS an emergency. Then you have to determine that it is your place to act. Then you have to take the right action.

I don't think the folks who watched this fire had the slightest clue as to what was hapening. Certainly none of them fully appriciated the gazillion or so watts of powere that were flowing .... or that power lines are not on circuit breakers like the ones in our homes. You can see one guy rather near the base of the tree; obviously he does not understand 'stray current.'

In the exerpt I posted (from the news story), it is also clear that the 911 operator did not have a full appreciation of the problem. All I can say is: don't be afraid to call again! Also, don't be afraid to argue or be blunt.

As an example, I had a customer call me to a building where the service mast was pulling off the building, had separated from the meter can, and the conductors were damaged. I had some difficulty getting the PoCo to respond; finally I told them bluntly that the next call would be from the Fire Department, when those feeders shorted out. I got my response, and repairs were made inside of 20 minutes of the troubleman's arrival. Don't be afraid to push when you have to.
Posted By: Alan Belson

Re: Tree toast - 10/09/09 12:06 AM

Any tree subjected to large amperages like this becomes useless for carpentry, BTW. A direct lightning strike, for instance, will produce 'herringbone' shaped shakes and cracks right down and through the trunk, as I found out recently on two meadow oaks I bought. Burns ok in the stove though!
Posted By: ghost307

Re: Tree toast - 10/09/09 02:55 PM

It might have no structural vaule, but those unusual patterns make for a very nice tabletop.
Posted By: Alan Belson

Re: Tree toast - 10/09/09 09:56 PM

I have used some old 'lightning struck' seasoned chestnut boards, intended for coffins but superceded by cheaper-to-use veneered-board products. While you can get over some minor visible shakes by hiding them where they won't be seen, larger ones always seem to open up after a while on the finished work. These can be really dangerous part-quartered on a table edge, handrail or seat rail, as a 'spike' can peel out to injure the unsuspecting passing hand. Even rubbing glue in won't hold them. I think the huge stresses set up in the tree by the passage of massive currents, generating high pressure steam, must damage the wood on a micro level, and that stress eventually causes movement.

BTW, as an aside I once ripped up some lovely sycamore boards, to discover a couple riddled with dozens of 9mm lead bullets! Nothing more sinister than target practice I hope. sick
Posted By: BigJohn

Re: Tree toast - 10/10/09 01:43 AM

I'm sort of interested in what happened in this video. The intensity of the arc got worse as the video progressed. I wonder why? Presumably the tree dried as it let off steam, but maybe it carbonized and thus became more conductive?

Why the hugely intense flash at the end? Did the flames/smoke become severe enough to allow enough conduction? Flashover to those distribution lines?

What do ya'll think?

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Tree toast - 10/10/09 02:00 AM

I think you're seeing the result of the overloads kicking out - then re-energizing the line several times.
Posted By: noderaser

Re: Tree toast - 10/10/09 04:14 AM

I don't know what everyone is going on about, as there is talk about calling someone ("the people") less than 20 seconds into the video... There are other comments in the video about some making a call, having made the call, etc.

I wouldn't be concerned about moving my car, however.
Posted By: Alan Belson

Re: Tree toast - 10/12/09 08:00 PM

Trees, [or at least the freshly cut lumber boards], usually usually have a 50% or higher moisture content, and that water is full of salts and soluble nutrients so it's a good conductor. Charcoal is better, so you may be right, Big John. Pine, Fir and other softwood foliage is also full of essential oils, and they burn really well, even when green.
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