MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A New Jersey utility worker narrowly escaped as fallen wires erupted into a fireball, setting the ground ablaze. The explosive incident was captured on a police dashcam video early Monday morning.
"Once the line came in contact with the ground, it erupted into a fireball real quick," Officer Christopher Hemhauser told WCAU. The lineman was forced to run for his life to escape the intense flames and sparks shooting high into the air. "He was standing right in the mix of it all. The wires were around him," said Hemhauser. "He was extremely lucky."
The employee from Jersey Central Power and Light had been working to get a fallen wire off that traffic light pole when it became clear electricity was still surging through the wire. "I was under the impression that the line was de-energized and based on his actions, I felt he was under the same impression that the line was de-energized," said Hemhauser.
Hemhauser immediately checked on the lineman. He said he was OK and didn't want medical treatment. "He was definitely startled, seemed just like myself, kind of in shock as to what happened," said Hemhauser.
The power line came down during a severe storm overnight. Hemhauser and another officer had to make a run for it themselves during an earlier explosion in the same spot. "The fire resulting from that second blast was so intense it set part of the ground ablaze. You can see some of the holes left behind in the asphalt ... It's just a reminder of how dangerous electricity really is."
A spokesperson for the power company says operations personnel are reviewing the dashcam video, the incident is under investigation and the company is glad nobody was hurt. "I've met, worked alongside these JCP&L guys on many scenes and they are very cautious, they follow the rules, something obviously was wrong here," said Hemhauser.
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