MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A utility worker is lucky to be alive after handling a downed wire he believed wasn’t energized.
It all started on Sunday night, when the powerful storms knocked out transformers and downed electrical wires, disrupting traffic signals. Manchester Police responded to the intersection State Highway 70 and Colonial Drive to direct traffic and keep people safe from the downed wires.
Monday morning, JCP&L utility workers responded to the scene.
A JCP&L worker who was wearing full safety gear grabbed a wire he believed was de-energized and pulled it down to the ground. When it hit the ground, it burst into flame.
“As soon as it hits the ground it erupts into a fireball,” said Sgt. Chris Hemhauser of the Manchester Township police. “And right in the middle of it is a JCP&L employee standing there.”
The incident was caught on Manchester Police dashcam video.
“I immediately felt like this guy is in danger,” Hemhauser told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.
He immediately bolted over to the worker to check out if he was OK and urged him to go to the hospital.
“I offered him medical treatment, and he’s like ‘No, I’m good.’ I’m, like, ‘I got the first aid to check on you.’ He goes, ‘I’m OK,'” Hemhauser said.
Fortunately, no-one was injured.
A spokesperson for JCP&L, which refused an on camera interview, told Rapoport over the phone she couldn’t comment on that.
“We have procedures to follow to keep our employees safe. Whether those procedures were followed will be part of our investigation,” spokesperson Jennifer Young said.
Industry experts advise the public never to take any chances in situations like this.
“If you see a downed wire, assume that it’s live. Never assume that it’s de-energized,” said Con Ed’s Allan Drury.
JCP&L says, as per safety protocol, the worker was wearing specialty rubber boots, gloves and yellow jumpsuit. They’re all fire retardant and nonconductive to electricity. The company says all of that likely contributed from the frightening incident uninjured.
The worker’s identity has not been released.