Power outage hits 1,000 Cape customers, traffic lights

Saturday, August 18, 2007
With traffic lights out of service, patrolman Greg Chenoweth directed traffic Friday at Kingshighway and Southern Expressway in Cape Girardeau. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

A loose power line in the 500 block of South Kingshighway cut off power to several traffic lights and 1,065 AmerenUE customers Friday afternoon.

The outage began about 2:10 p.m., AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary said, when a loose power line caused a pole to catch fire briefly at 511 S. Kingshighway in front of Van Matre Buick. Cleary said he received reports the loose wire came into contact with a cross arm on the pole.

Traffic lights at intersections along South Kingshighway from Southern Expressway to Bloomfield Road were temporarily without power, and city police were dispatched to direct traffic.

Cape Girardeau Fire Department battalion chief Bob Kembel said cable TV wires on the poles in the area became "energized" -- or began carrying electrical current -- when the incident occurred. The hot wires led to a fire in tall grasses near the intersection of South Kingshighway and Southern Expressway when hot insulation from the cable wire dripped onto the dry grass. The fire was quickly extinguished by a fire department brush truck.

Kembel said the energized cable line also started at least two small grass fires in front of the car dealership that went out before fire department personnel arrived.

Cleary said power was restored to the AmerenUE customers by about 3:30 p.m.

Police department dispatchers said police directing traffic left the intersections at around 3:15 p.m.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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