The Cambrian

What caused a power pole to crash into an SUV on a sunny, calm day in Cambria?

There was no rain and light wind on a recent sunny day in Cambria. So why did a power pole on Wood Drive suddenly do a scary swan dive onto an SUV parked on the other side of the street?

Cambria Fire Department firefighters at the scene said they believed that the ground supporting the pole had simply given way, according to neighbors.

The downed pole, which held a transformer, had to be replaced in a process that left people in the area without power from approximately 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1 to about daylight the next day.

The incident also illustrated how dangerous it is when people get too close to power lines lying on the ground.

Apparently, area property owners had notified firefighters earlier in the day to report that the pole was leaning further than it had been the previous day.

Fire Captain Emily Torlano said her crew was dispatched at 2:51 p.m., to check on the pole. “It was still intact and had a slight lean to it,” she said, so “we notified PG&E,” which was all the firefighters are authorized to do under those circumstances.

Then a couple of hours later, the fire crew was sent back to the scene because the pole had fallen.

10-02-19 pole falls on car michele sherman photo.jpg
A utility poll in Cambria gave way and crashed into an SUV parked nearby Tuesday, Oct. 1. Michele Sherman Courtesy photo

“Fortunately, nobody was hurt,” Torlano said, but the pole “did go right through the back window of a Nissan Pathfinder. We waited at the scene for PG&E to arrive, which took approximately 45 minutes.”

The linemen had to cut power to the lines to make it safe to walk or be in the area.

During that time, however, firefighters fretted because, according to Torlano, “a large number of people were walking all over outside, literally stepping over the lines... We got on the PA system and advised them to shelter in their homes until PG&E secured the power.”

She said that, unfortunately, “many didn’t listen, or kept coming out of their homes and walking toward the lines,” which can be extremely hazardous.

“The main message for the public,” Torlano said, “is just because a line appears to not be charged, doesn’t mean that it isn’t, or that it won’t become charged.” If a line is down, people should automatically consider it to be ‘hot’” and “live,” and stay away from the area until PG&E arrives to shut down the power there.

She added that people also should “stay away from vehicles or other metal objects that could carry the current and electrocute you. Our ultimate goal is the community’s safety!”

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune