Compromised utility pole causes traffic delays

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

January 15, 2015

Power Line Down

A utility pole along Highway 100 caught fire Saturday morning causing the main road to be blocked off. The highway, which connects Laguna Heights and Port Isabel, was closed off for several hours, forcing a long line of vehicles to reroute and drive into Brownville to re-enter either city, including many of those who were coming back from participating in the 31st Annual Causeway Run and Fitness Walk which ended on South Padre Island. Though a brief power outage followed the electrical fire affecting a little over 1,000 area residents, the road wasn’t reopened until after 5:00 p.m. as the pole was swaying back and forth in danger of collapsing shortly after the fire ignited around 10:00 a.m.

“The fire we saw was compromising the integrity of the pole,” said Officer Ray Brandriff of the Port Isabel Police Department who was on scene. “It’s starting to sway now. It doesn’t happen that often and usually they’re able to extinguish it. I can’t tell you why it’s still burning it this weather,” he said referring to the rainy atmosphere surrounding the unyielding fire.

The fire was put out by emergency crews before the pole was intentionally dismantled and is expected to be replaced next week. Electrical lines had to be cut and rerouted so the disintegrating pole would not tear down neighboring power lines once collapsing.

“We made a temporary measure to restore power until a permanent metal structure arrives to replace it,” said Franz Espinoza with AEP Texas. “This is a normal business practice in these kinds of situations. The public is not in any danger while we wait for the replacement to arrive.”

Many of the wooden utility poles along the chief highway have been replaced by metal ones over time to prevent similar occurrences. Poor weather conditions are cited as the reason for the incident.

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