Log truck clips power lines, breaks poles, stops traffic

An eastbound log truck snagged a utility line Thursday afternoon, Dec. 10, causing a power pole to snap and another to crack, knocking out power to five Pacific Power customers, shattering the Hong Kong Restaurant’s sign and completely closing Highway 20.

Sweet Home Police reported that they cited driver Marvin Linn Stafford 59, of Mill City for violation of the maximum height limit.

The log truck was 15 feet 9 inches tall, said Officer John Trahan. When the truck snagged the line, it caused two poles to crack and lean near the base. About the top third of one of the poles snapped off and was left hanging from the power lines. The poles are located on the north side of the highway.

Sweet Home firefighters and police officers responded and closed Highway 20 until Pacific Power and Oregon Department of Transportation personnel arrived. The road was closed in the area of the 4300 block from 12:20 p.m. to 1:49 p.m.

Pacific Power employees responded with two new poles. They used a hydraulic arm on the back of one of their trucks to hold the suspended pole while two men working in a bucket disconnected the power lines. Across the street, Comcast employees were standing by, waiting to reconnect their lines.

They lowered that pole to the ground and installed new poles.

Power was restored at 10:39 p.m., said Pacific Power Spokesman Tom Gauntt.

Electricity was routed around the broken line to keep more customers from losing power.

“In any kind of a situation, there’s ways to switch things around,” Gauntt said.

He didn’t know how much the replacements cost, he said. Pacific Power has to buy poles and keep them stored for events like this, and it also incurred labor costs. The costs will vary from situation to situation.

“Overall, that’s kind of the cost of doing business because we want to keep everyone connected as long as possible,” Gauntt said.

Pacific Power had a second unrelated outage in Sweet Home that day, Gauntt said. A piece of equipment failed, and power went out for 325 customers at about 4:06 p.m.

During the repairs, Pacific Power had to cut power briefly for additional customers, Gauntt said. For a brief time near the end of the repair, 850 customers were without power. Power was restored for all customers by 7:09 p.m.