Downed power line closes Branford road

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
April 14, 2008

BRANFORD — A downed power line on Burban Drive sparked an electrical fire Sunday that damaged a woman’s driveway and mailbox and left neighborhood residents without power for several hours, Branford fire officials said.

An unlucky squirrel brought the line down at about 8 a.m. Sunday, Deputy Fire Chief John Masci said. A power arc where the line touched the ground burned for about 30 minutes before Connecticut Light & Power officials shut down the wire.

Officials asked neighbors to stay in their homes and closed the road while the line was burning, Masci said. The event also shut down a traffic light at the nearby intersection of West Main Street and Jefferson Road, so police officers directed traffic there for some time.

“It’s a major intersection, and without the police out there, it’s a major, major headache,” Masci said. “We probably would have been out there for an accident in no time if the police didn’t get out there and do that.”

The arcing line destroyed the mailbox, concrete wall and part of the driveway at one residence, he added. There were no injuries.

After the fire was extinguished, a Branford Public Works crew tore up the area of the road where the line had been burning because it had overheated the asphalt, Masci said.

“We spent about 45 minutes opening up the asphalt and just pouring water into the soil to make sure any utility lines wouldn’t be affected,” he said, adding that the arc burned at about 2,000 degrees and turned parts of the asphalt to glass.

“It was an arc about the size of a basketball — it’s like a supernova, it just sits there and has this strong electrical sound to it (and) vibrates the ground, and it just sits there and burns until the power is shut off,” he said. “In this case, we were lucky there was nothing like trees or bushes or even metal fences around it that … could have burned or could have taken the electricity and transferred it somewhere else.”

Fire officials cleared the scene at about 10:30 a.m., and power was mostly restored by late morning.

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