Power pole fire

You may have noticed we experienced a power failure around midnight last night, lasting about 3 hours. The culprit was a power pole fire at the Channel View RV park that started around 7:30 pm. Here’s how the incident unfolded: The Fire Department was dispatched by 911 at 7:50. The chief arrived a few minutes later, followed by the pump truck and firefighters at 8:00. Since the power was still on, the Fire Dept could not extinguish the fire immediately. Hosing water onto live power lines is a no-no. A Magic Valley Electric Co-op crew arrived around 8:45 and used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. The pole was severely damaged and the Co-op crew retired to a safe distance, waiting for backup to repair/replace the pole. With power still on, the fire re-ignited and continued burning the pole until it broke off. The broken portion was held aloft by a line feeding over to the RV park. There was no immediate danger of the fire spreading and the Co-op crew elected to leave power on to avoid a blackout in the area. By 11:45, the Co-op backup crew had still not arrived, the wind was picking up a little and the fire was starting to pose a threat from dropping embers. The Fire Department determined that the situation was too dangerous and instructed the Co-op crew to cut the power. The fire was well and truly extinguished by the pump truck crew. Fortunately, within minutes of putting out the fire, the Co-op construction crew arrived with a new pole, equipment and what looked to be at least 8 cherry pickers. They got to work and the power was restored after 3 or so hours. We don’t have any photos of the incident but here are a sampling of what pole fires look like and what ensuing damage can occur.

Pole fires usually start by an arc tracking across an insulator to ground over the wooden pole. The arcing is not sufficient to trip the circuit, but is hot enough to set fire to the pole. Salt from the sea air and dirt settle on the insulators. After a long dry spell, this accumulation becomes heavy. When there is a short rain which is not hard or long enough to wash off the accumulation, the rain water dissolves the salt, mixes it with the dust and creates a path for the electricity to arc and track across the pole, igniting it in the process. This is fairly common close to the ocean, in fact Port Mansfield Fire Department inform us that 80% of their fire calls are for pole fires.

Thank you to the Arroyo City Fire Department for their prompt response and vigilance in protecting our community.


Dodging a bullet

We did just that on Friday. Hurricane Harvey meandered by us about 80 miles or so offshore, heading NNW towards the Corpus Christi area. Fortunately the impact on us was minor, with a couple of wind gusts and about 1/2 inch of rain. Not too far north though, Harvey caused some serious disruptions and even further north, devastation to Rockport/Fulton where landfall was made. We pray for everyone in that area.

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Since coming ashore, Harvey has stalled and is wandering around South Central and Eastern Texas, deluging greater Houston, Victoria and the surrounding areas. Even in Austin and as far away as Dallas, the rain is coming down. South Western Louisiana is also bracing for the downpour. Record rainfall will lead to widespread flooding and consequent damage. Our prayers also go out to all those who are being pummeled by the rain and being flooded out.


Overnight storm

Last night we finally got some rain. Unfortunately it came with 60 mph winds, hail, thunder and lightening. According to my nextbook radar app., Arroyo City was hit around 9pm with a severe storm. There were reports of golf ball size hail, high winds and torrential downpour from the storm which moved through at 30 mph. At our end of the Arroyo we escaped the full fury with light hail only and no damage. We pray others were as fortunate.

These photos are not of the storm – they are illustrative only.


coldYesterday  a cold front moved into the valley in the early hours of the morning. The temperature plummeted and the wind howled. Winter has arrived! Today has been chilly to frigid and despite the sunshine, the wind cuts through everything, so it remains arctic feeling.

I know those winter Texans out there are saying this is nothing compared to the northern prairies or Canada but, newsflash, this is Tropical South Texas. We locals can complain – we were in the 80’s less than a week ago. Nevertheless this too shall pass and within a day or two we’ll be back in shorts basking in the sun.

In the meanwhile, be sure to keep the dogs inside, bring in the pot plants and leave those outside faucets dripping or covered up to keep the water in the pipes moving. This morning we had a thin sheet of ice on the dock where the faucet was dripping.