Falling tree the cause of Hawks Nest blackout

‘Eavesdropping’ taken to the extreme, this house had its eaves ripped out by the power cable.

DARKNESS engulfed Hawks Nest just after 9:30pm on Sunday 21 January, when a massive eucalyptus tree limb suddenly fell on Dolphin Avenue.

It was a calm and starry night, with nary a cloud in the sky, and not a breath of wind, when the branches suddenly succumbed to gravity from ten metres up.

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The first limb broke off others, collecting two overhead domestic power connections that were stretched across the street.

Both lines fell, although the one running up a driveway also tore out the eave connection, like a broken heart on Valentine’s Day.

“To safeguard the community, safety equipment was operated, isolating power to approximately 1200 customers until Essential Energy crews arrived on site,” a spokesperson for Essential Energy told NOTA.

“Crews worked into the night, restoring power to the majority of customers by 11pm.”

“Widowmaker,” said many nearby, referring to the historical and ominous tendency of large, older eucalypts to simply drop their limbs upon unsuspecting wood-getters.

As reported previously in NOTA, eucalypts and other ‘dry sclerophyll’ trees require fire to propagate their seeds, and a million years of evolution has left us with this ‘sudden branch drop’ tendency, in order to create ground-fuel for fire.

“Essential Energy has a continuous vegetation program to manage vegetation near powerlines with the aim to reduce the risk of power outages and potential bushfires, we understand how important trees and other vegetation are to the community and work with councils and landholders to ensure effective vegetation management in the best interests of the community,” Essential Energy’s spokesperson explained.

“Essential Energy’s cyclic inspection program provides for rigorous inspection of the electricity network by air and ground, to identify where vegetation management and asset maintenance is needed.”

“Tree trimming near power lines can be extremely hazardous and should only be performed by qualified tree trimmers.

“The public can report concerns of vegetation growing too close to the electricity network, as well as accessing Essential Energy’s Vegetation Management Plan at essentialenergy.com.au/trees or by calling our 24-hour contact centre.”

Essential Energy reminds everyone to stay at least eight metres away from fallen or damaged power lines and to immediately report to Essential Energy on 13 20 80.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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