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Dump truck snags lines, knocks out power to many

July 10, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

More than 1,000 Allegheny Power customers lost power Tuesday morning when the bed of a large dump truck snagged some power lines near Berkeley Heights Elementary School, a fire official said.

The tandem dump truck became so hot from the electricity surging through it that its tires caught fire, according to Capt. Steve Canby of the Martinsburg Fire Department.

The driver of the truck, Gary Walls, 57, jumped safely from the cab of the truck after it came in contact with the power lines, Canby said.

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Walls did not come in contact with any metal on the truck, which probably saved him from serious injury, Canby said.

"He was a very fortunate guy," Canby said.

The 11:31 a.m. incident interrupted power to 1,363 Allegheny Power customers in the immediate area, Allegheny Power spokeswoman Debbie Beck said.

The utility began receiving complaints about the power shortage about 11:45 a.m., and power was restored by 2:15 p.m., Beck said.

Walls was dumping a load of dirt next to some recently constructed townhouses off Electra Court. Walls began pulling the truck away with the bed up when it hit the power lines, Canby said.

The power lines became lodged under a lip on the front of the bed of the truck, Canby said.

The truck was about 10 to 20 feet from a townhouse and firefighters stood by to make sure the fire did not spread to the building, Canby said.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, there was electricity arcing through the bed of the truck and power was surging through the ground around the truck, Canby said.

The fire on the truck was limited to the area around the tires and did not reach the cab, Canby said. Firefighters could not extinguish the fire until Allegheny Power crews could disconnect the power in the line, Canby said.

The truck, owned by Cogar Excavating of Inwood, W.Va., sustained about $10,000 in damages, Canby said.

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