A home security camera in Trenton captured two bright flashes coming from across Western Bay a few seconds apart just before 5 a.m. Monday. COURTESY OF SUSAN COLLEEN

Power line fire starts week with a bang

BAR HARBOR — Waking up Monday morning, some residents of the northern part of Mount Desert Island wondered if lightning had struck nearby. 

It was still dark out when people heard one or two loud bangs and saw bright flashes of light a few minutes before 5 a.m. 

An insulator at the top of a utility pole on Route 3 near Sunnyside Motel and Cottages failed, which burned one of the phases of the high-voltage transmission line on the pole, according to Emera Maine spokesperson Judy Long. 

The cause of the failed insulator has not been definitively determined, though it’s a possibility that the wind might have caused the damage,” she said. 

It wasn’t a transformer explosion, but because the voltage in the transmission lines is so high, a related fire “can cause some visually impactful results.” 

Rob Kelley, who lives nearby on Pine Ridge Road, said he was sitting in his living room when he saw “a flash in the trees.” He heard a bang that sounded like a gunshot, he said. “I only heard one bang and it was sharp, not like thunder.” 

Kelley checked his own house, where several circuit breakers were tripped and two televisions were fried, and went to see what had happened. 

“There were flames shooting right up out of the pole,” he said. 

Fire burned through the top of the pole. The transmission was live in the road and burning, according to the fire department, so Route 3 was closed between the head of the island and Knox Road. 

Across Western Bay in Trenton, Susan Colleen was asleep, but her bedroom window faces the bay. “I saw a flash when I was sleeping … but didn’t hear a boom, and knew it wasn’t storming,” she said. “So I just assumed it was part of a dream!” 

She got a message from a seasonal neighbor asking if there had been an explosion nearby, since his security camera had picked up unusual activity. He shared the camera footage, which shows two bright flashes coming from the Bar Harbor side of the bay a few seconds apart a few minutes before 5 a.m. 

About 60 homes and businesses were without power for much of the day while the repairs were made. 

Repairs took much of the day, in part because we needed to bring in a ledge truck to replace the pole in ledge along the roadside,” Long said. “We understand that the detour created some delays for motorists, but we appreciate their patience while we worked to safely make repairs. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the road where Rob Kelley lives.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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