Local News

Blue Ridge Road Reopens; Power Lines Cleared

Posted June 8, 2005 7:23 a.m. EDT

— Blue Ridge Road near Wade Avenue is open again after more than 24 hours after strong winds knocked down six utility poles during a severe thunderstorm.

Crews worked all day to repair the fallen lines caused by the storm, which left more than 26,000 customers in the area without power.

Thirteen motorists became stranded Tuesday afternoon in their vehicles for about an hour as they waited for emergency crews to help them get out of the way of the potentially dangerous situation.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Julie Hans said the lines may have been carrying about 13,000 volts of electricity when they fell.

Hans said it was a miracle that a power pole did not fall onto any of the vehicles and that no one was injured.

She also said that the No. 1 safety rule in a situation with fallen power lines is for people to remain where they are.

"Stay in your car until authorities arrive and help you get to safe ground," Hans said.

Staying in their vehicles and away from the downed power lines saved the 13 motorists' lives, she said.

"If (the power lines) had been energized, which they may well could have been, they would have come into contact with 13,000 volts of electricity," Hans said.

She also said that drivers should never drive over downed power lines.

"Those rubber tires on the car are not going to protect you from the voltage and those lines if they're energized," Hans said.

Some people think lines have to be smoldering or sparked to be energized Hans said, but that is not always the case. She said there is no way to visibly tell if a line still has power running through it.

The storm hit the Triangle at one of its busiest traffic times -- the afternoon rush hour.

"I was just coming down the road and it just started pouring in front," said Paula Crews, who was trapped in her car. "You couldn't see the road. I saw the telephone pole coming down and I realized there were power lines all around my car."

Crews called her brother, a Cary firefighter, who told her to stay in her car and wait for emergency crews.