power line fire

Courtesy of Responding Fire

A power line in Callaway catches brush on fire during high winds in the area Feb. 25.

The recent ice and wind storms wreaked havoc on the area, downing trees, causing power lines to snap and even leading to a few fires, but area emergency responders did a great job of keeping order.

While many people were without power, Appalachian Power Co. hustled to get many Franklin County customers back online within a day’s time. By about 7 p.m. Feb. 21, more than 1,300 customers were without power. By midmorning the following day, that number was around 200. The power company deployed 1,400 workers out to restore power quickly.

However, high winds over the weekend served to only undo some of that work, knocking out power for nearly 40,000 Appalachian Power customers statewide Sunday. According to Appalachian Power, that number was cut in half by Monday morning with 1,700 customers in Franklin County without power. By Tuesday, Feb. 26, power had been restored to all customers in Franklin County according to the utility.

Gusts of up to 60 mph were recorded near Penhook, according to the National Weather Service. The windy weather carried into Monday, when gusts reached 30 mph to 45 mph in Rocky Mount.

During both the wind and ice events, trees were toppled as were power lines. Firefighters and paramedics across Franklin County were dispatched to more than 100 calls in the 48-hour span from Feb. 20 through Thursday, Feb. 21. After a brief respite Saturday with only three fire runs and nine paramedic runs, firefighters were dispatched to approximately 33 more calls, while paramedics responded to 30.

Down trees and power lines were only some of the calls. There were still motor vehicle crashes and other residential incidents, such as generators being operated indoors resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Virginia Department of Transportation also sent crews to help clear trees and pretreat roads prior to the ice storm. While nothing can stop ice from being slick, the pretreatment seemed to help fend off accumulating ice. With emergency responders in place ahead of the weather, it seemed almost as if Mother Nature snapped her fingers and said, “Places, please” as everyone took their station. Well done to the crews, and thank you.

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