Eagle arcs up Codrington, St Helens firefighters

FIRE crews have credited roadside clearing for averting a potential inferno after a wedge-tailed eagle arced two high-voltage powerlines near Codrington.

Sparks from the broken wires ignited vegetation under the 66kV supply line beside the Princes Highway and spread to cypress trees and undergrowth.

At one stage sparks blew across the highway and came within 10 metres of a stack of 2000 large square hay bales.

“We would have been still there trying to put it out had it not been for the fire prevention clearing that had been done a few weeks ago,” CFA Belfast group officer Max Humphrys told The Standard.

“Grass had been cut recently and was green, so the fire didn’t spread fast.”

About 20 firefighters from Codrington and St Helens brigades under Codrington captain Callum Mason took about two hours to contain the outbreaks.

A fried adult-size eagle was found under the broken wires after its wings had made contact and caused a high-voltage arc on Friday evening.

Powercor crews worked until 10am the following morning to repair the breaks. Fortunately the arcing triggered an automatic switch-over to an alternate powerline and maintained supply. 

A Powercor spokesman said it was rare for a wedge-tailed eagle to cause an outage by arcing wires. 

He said with dangerous fire weather conditions approaching property owners should trim vegetation near private lines and report concerns about public powerlines to Powercor on 132412.

Meanwhile, fire crews were yesterday mopping up a fire on a farming property north of Mortlake which had been smouldering since Friday.

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