Danger of Electrocution for FightersPosted: Updated:
YAKIMA, Wa - The Yakima Fire Department says a house fire on East Mead Avenue on Tuesday night shows the dangers that firefighters face don't always have to with fire. Captain Jennifer Norton of YFD explains how downed power lines can be potentially deadly.
She surveyed the damage from the fire on East Mead Avenue. Firefighters from Yakima and Union Gap did not have a chance to save the house because they had to wait until the power company turned off electricity from downed power lines.
"It can travel 10 to 15 feet from the actual spot where it is touching and it can also jump to a fence for instance because it is trying to find ground," says Captain Norton.
A power line broke soon after the fire started. It landed on a fence and some in a front yard. The electric charge prevented firefighters from attacking the fire right away.
"Often times, we think of electricity as arcing or sparking," says Norton, "But sometimes it doesn't."
A firefighter responding to Tuesday night's fire actually received an electric shock when he touched a vehicle in the front yard, but he wasn't hurt. Captain Norton says nationwide only one or two firefighters die a year from electrocution.
She says that's because it's the number one thing on their mind when they arrive on a fire scene.
"We treat every line as if it is live and there's power to it."