Defective Power Pole Insulator Causes Grass Fire, Storm Knocks Out Power

A power surge near the Quarles Rock quarry around noon today knocked out power to approximately 1,200 Rappahannock Electric Cooperative members and sparked a grass fire that burned nearly an acre of land before being extinguished.

Soon after the brush fire was extinguished a severe storm knocked out power for many residents in the eastern portion of Clarke County.

Rappahannock Electric employee with a fire extinguisher

At approximately 11:54 am Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department Captain Rick Jyachosky said that he was at home when he heard the report of the blaze.   Jyachosky said that even though he was on-scene within only a few minutes, the fire had already become a significant blaze.

“It was burning pretty good by the time I got there” Jyachosky said. “With conditions so dry the fire took off pretty quickly.’

Drought conditions over the last three months prompted the Clarke County Supervisors to issue a outdoor burning ban on July 12th. The ban remains in effect with very little rain recorded in the county over the last 30 days.

According to REC Public Relations Director Ann Lewis, a faulty insulator near the intersection of Hawthore Road and Route 7 malfunctioned causing sparks which ignited the fire.

“There was bad insulator at the top of the pole” Lewis said. “Approximately 1200 members lost power for approximately 35 minutes.” Lewis said that as of 2:30pm all power had been restored with the possible exception of the quarry.

Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Company Captain Jyachosky said that two brush fire trucks manned by five fire fighters were able to quickly contain the blaze. “The Forestry Department will stay on-site to make sure that the fire is completely out.”

Jyachosky said that the Forestry department crew will ensure that the perimeter area around the fire does not rekindle and that the fire has not traveled underground.

At 2:30pm a severe thunderstorm dumped heavy rain across the eastern section of Clarke County. Multiple lightning strikes were observed along Route 601 north of Mount Weather.

Power outages are reported along most of Route 601.