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Use Caution When Burning

Each spring, all across Big Horn REA’s service territory, members prepare to plant. In clearing weeds and debris to begin the planting process, burning fields and ditches is a common method used by many people. Every spring and fall Big Horn’s employees witness damage being done to Big Horn’s poles and equipment by “controlled” burns. Please be aware that burning or even scorching a pole will compromise the integrity of the structure.

Power poles are treated with a protective coating that prevents moisture from entering the core of the pole and causing deterioration. If a pole is scorched or blackened, the protective coating is damaged. Though it may appear as just a discoloration or slight burn, this is, in fact, damage to the pole. This will significantly shorten the life of a power pole. This pole may then become a hazard and/or cause an outage.

Big Horn once again reminds members to plan your burning before you begin. It is much cheaper to prevent a pole from catching fire than to pay for a new pole. Members will be held liable for the replacement cost of pole(s) and/or equipment due to fire damage. This cost may vary from $1,000 to over $2,000 depending on the structure of the pole and equipment. It only takes a little extra effort to prevent pole damage and help control costs for you and your cooperative.

Burning of ditches and fields does not have to result in the burning/scorching of power poles. If there are power poles in the area to be burned, clear the vegetation/weeds at least four feet around the base of the pole and wet the base of the pole with water before beginning to burn. If the fire does get away from you and a pole becomes engulfed in flames, immediately call the fire department and Big Horn REA. Do not spray water close to the conductors! Water and electricity do not mix! This may cause a short circuit. You and/or the firefighters could be in the path of that current and serious injury or death may result.

Report any fire damaged pole to Big Horn REA immediately. Not reporting the damage may cause a serious accident to happen later. One spring a member driving down the road called us to report a pole that had been burned through and fallen over. This left the energized lines about a foot off the ground. If a person had come into contact with the line, they most likely would have been seriously burned, or even killed. The person responsible for the burning was not even in the area. This carelessness could have cost a life.


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