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Freak power line break kills cow

WENDELL — Warren Willard wants people to know downed electrical wires can sometimes be dangerous even after they’ve been fixed.

Willard should know — he lost his cow after spliced wires ripped apart following National Grid’s repair of electrical lines on his property on New Salem Road.

According to Willard, people don’t always consider the dynamic forces at play with downed electrical and phone lines. The high voltage of the lines in combination with the physics of wires under great tension can create dangerous situations even after they are repaired. That’s exactly what happened when the phone company worked on the lines near Willard’s house several weeks after National Grid had repaired power lines carried along the same poles.

The wires fell into a pond his livestock used as drinking water. He found the animal the next day dead beside the water’s edge. She was apparently electrocuted.

National Grid spokeswoman Debbie Drew said, “it seems that a chain of events happened … that may have compromised the repair.”

Willard said that the wires were brought down by a wind storm that ripped through town in early September. Though he was traveling the night of the storm, neighbors called the electrical and phone companies after discovering both sets of wires down and the power off.

By the time he arrived home, the electrical wire had been spliced by National Grid and power had been restored to the neighborhood. However, the phone lines were still sagging under the weight of a fallen tree.

A tree company, which Willard believes the phone company hired, removed the tree several weeks later. With the weight of the tree removed, the poles which had been pulled slightly towards each other, gradually resumed their original upright position, increasing tension on the splice made by National Grid, Willard concluded.

A few days later, the splice broke and the electrical wires were down again. One of the ends draped into the pond and the cow lay nearby.

“I don’t want to point fingers at anyone,” said Willard. “Nobody is to blame but it’s a sad thing that my cow died and I’m just glad that a person didn’t get hurt.”

Drew said that the company is “working directly with the customer” to resolve the issue.

Willard said recently he is “still playing phone tag” with company representatives, although he had a phone message from National Grid that they were sending out a claim form for the incident.

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