Jan. 11, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – There were 1,400 people in West Bend and Kewaskum without power this afternoon… and the reason for the outage is going to sound like a story out of The Onion.
“It started at 11:15 a.m. around a power pole on County Road H and Badger Road,” said We Energies media relations Amy Jahns. “That was the source of the issue that caused the fire.”
Neighbors chimed in on Washington County Insider on Facebook that Moraine Park Technical College lost power just after 11 a.m. The school was running on a generator.
Motorists said the traffic lights were out on Highway 33 all the way from 18th and Chestnut to the Villa Park subdivision to the new Russ Darrow Nissan dealership and in Kewaskum.
Jahns said they’ve been seeing similar instances all over southeastern Wisconsin.
“When the weather is warmer with moisture in the air and there’s a lot of road salt, that moisture and road salt can mix and when it gets kicked up onto the power poles it becomes a conductor,” she said. “The electricity is already going through that equipment and sometimes the poles catch fire and that’s what we saw at this particular location.”
Jahns said there have been a dozen such power pole fires since Wednesday, Jan. 10.
“We normally see this in the spring time but with the warm up and moisture we had over the past two days we’re seeing it a lot more frequently,” she said.
For the past few weeks much of Wisconsin has been in a deep freeze. On Sunday warmer temps gradually moved into the area and neighbors enjoyed comfortable 40s and even 50 degrees in some areas.
Late Thursday afternoon there was consistent precipitation and temps dropped dramatically. The National Weather Service is reporting a low of 14 degrees tonight with highs in the teens through the weekend.