Thursday, May 23, 2024

*Update/response*Fire Official: Citizens, Responders Were Imperiled by Downed High Voltage Line

By RICK BEASLEY, Depoe Bay Beacon

Special to Homepage

DEPOE BAY (April 13) — An officer for the Depoe Bay Fire District (DBFD) has rebutted some claims that the agency was late to a January 11 fire that destroyed or damaged 10 vehicles when a high-voltage powerline fell on cars waiting for service at a local business.

Three on-duty firefighters, the Fire Chief and Division Chief were spread across the district on three other calls when they were notified of the incident at 2:47p.m. A DBFD engine arrived at Car Audio 101-473 SW Hwy 101 seven minutes later, reported Division Chief Tom Jackson, second in command of DBFD.

Firefighters and citizens alike were endangered by the live wire, which snapped and sparked with as many as 30,000 volts.

Firefighters respond to car fire outside business

As car fires erupted, firefighters sparingly applied water to avoid being electrocuted.

With no sheriff or state police on scene to control busy Hwy. 101, firefighters yelled and ran to stop a vehicle that was about to run over the wire.

The entire scene was chaotic and dangerous, said Jackson. Other agencies, including Lincoln county Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation Incident Control, arrived cavalry-style about 25-30 minutes into the incident.

The electric utility provider was the last to arrive and shut off power.

The dramatic event underscored the trials facing DBFD, ranging from dangerous fires to vehicle accidents and cliff rescues.

The biggest challenge may be recruiting qualified firefighters.

Jackson said the normal contingent of 14 full-time firefighters now stands at 12 after resignations and retirements. The vacancies are increasingly hard to fill due to competition from bigger, better paying departments, he said. The department has had no volunteers for several years.

A recurring five-year property tax levy supports the manpower.

The Depoe Bay Fire District runs from approximately Salishan to Otter Rock, with stations at Otter Rock (unmanned), Depoe Bay and Gleneden Beach.

Firefighters currently bunk at the station in Depoe Bay in shifts of three to four firefighters on duty, 24/7.

Rick Beasley
Rick Beasley
Special to Homepage, Rick Beasley is an award-winning journalist across newsprint and digital media. Also founder of the Depoe Bay Beacon and Beacon Media.

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