October 28, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Seattle streets closed after workers trapped by high-voltage lines
UPDATE 3:30 P.M.| Everything but the right, westbound lane of Denny Way has reopened in time for rush hour. King County Metro’s Route 8 bus line, which was going to be rerouted through the evening, is back on its regular route.
Seattle Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marybeth Turner says there may be a few intermittent interruptions as crews continue fixing nearby power lines.
Three construction workers were each trapped in different vehicles for about two hours after the operator of an excavator knocked down high-tension power lines at a construction site on the north side of Denny Way at Pontius Avenue North in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
Kyle Moore, a spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, said the excavator operator knocked down the power lines at 11:37 a.m., causing four power poles to topple over. One pole landed on top of the cab of a dump truck and a second fell onto a row of cars parked on John Street, one block north of Denny Way, he said.
Live power lines, each carrying 26,000 volts, draped over the excavator, a second dump truck and portions of city streets. No one was injured, but road closures in the area were expected to last for hours.
Seattle City Light employees accessed an underground vault to shut off the power before the three men — who all work for a private contractor employed by the Seattle utility — could safely exit their vehicles at 1:39 p.m., Moore said. He said the men most likely would have been electrocuted had they attempted to get out of their vehicles before the power was cut.
Once the workers were freed, Moore said the scene was turned over to Seattle City Light and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The excavator operator was also to be interviewed by Seattle police, he said. The power surge caused numerous automatic fire alarms to go off in surrounding buildings and some businesses experienced power interruptions.
A spokesman for Seattle City Light did not immediately return messages.
Portions of Denny Way, between Stewart Street and Fairview Avenue, is expected to be closed at least through 11 p.m. However, both eastbound lanes and one lane of westbound of Denny have reopened at Minor Avenue.
John Street, between Stewart and Fairview, will also be closed for several hours.
Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said at least one Metro route, Route 8, would be rerouted around the area through the evening commute.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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