Driver transported to Highlands-Cashiers Hospital for burn injuries
Thousands throughout Macon and Jackson Counties were without power on Wednesday after a dump truck unloading waste materials clipped a power line about a mile off Highway 64 on Norton Road severing a main artery of power throughout the country, said Cashiers-Glennville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Randy Dillard.
Once the line was snagged, areas throughout the Plateau lost power at approx. 2:30 p.m. The male driver of the truck was taken to Highlands-Cashiers Hospital by Glennville-Cashiers Rescue Squad for burns to his arm, no more information is available on his condition at this time. Dillard said the driver exited the vehicle after the line was hit but reached back behind the driver’s seat to grab the fire extinguisher and was thrown back with the force of shock from potentially 66,000 volts.
Dillard said the CGFD received the call for a vehicle fire at 2:40 p.m. and when crews arrived the truck was sprouting flames. Firefighters could not immediately jump into action until the power lines were shut off.
“When I got here some flames were coming out of the truck and it wasn’t safe to do anything,” said Dillard. “Power can jump from lines to metal, it’s very dangerous. And this is one of the biggest lines in the country. We couldn’t do anything until it was shut off.”
Firefighters used foam to put out the flames because of the amount of diesel fuel and hydraulic oil. Once the fire was extinguished at approx. 5 p.m., a back hoe was used to help free the truck bed snagged on the power lines.
Dillard said if power was restored by 7 p.m. that would be impressive, but it was dependent on whether the line was melted in the fire or salvageable.
“If the line is working, they’ll probably get it back on pretty quick,” said Dillard.
At one point, Duke Energy’s website said over 2,000 people in certain areas were without power and it was estimated that it would not be restored until noon on March 28, but it was restored at 7:45 p.m. this evening after being down for approx. 5 hours and 15 minutes.
Dillard said he believed the driver was dropping off waste materials from a condo development nearby and did not know what company owned the truck.
Stay tuned to Plateau Daily News as more information becomes available.