Peter Leonard Returns Blueberries

The Fact Of The Matter Is…I Don’t Like Power Lines

May 29th, 2007 at 12:59pm

If there is one thing I have an irrational fear of and try to avoid like the plague, it’s overhead power lines.

I don’t really know why I am so antagonised by them, but whenever possible I try to avoid walking under them. In Canberra, where most power lines run through backyards, this isn’t too much of an issue as I can quickly pass the ones that cross from one side of the road to the other (although the poles which have feeder lines running up them petrify me). On occasion there are power lines which do actually run next to and above the footpath, I have two methods of dealing with this, firstly walk on the other side of the road where possible, and secondly, if I have to walk under the power lines, walk quickly.

I do remember walking home from Dickson College one day along the equestrian track behind the houses of Ainslie, on the edge of Mount Ainslie. The urban power lines (to differentiate from the high voltage lines in a similar area) ran the same way, but a bit closer to the houses…unfortunately due to the way the whole area undulates, at one stage this meant the power lines were level with, although a safe distance from, my head…this made me want to turn back and walk home another way…in the end I just walked as quickly as I could until that section was over.

On the subject of urban power lines and backyards…I’ve never quite understood the logic behind that. I believe it has something to do with having to run less cable, but power lines occasionally have faults, and they run along the line of the back fence…an often flammable object, usually surrounded by the least maintained, and driest, section of the garden. With so many people not being home during the day, it wouldn’t take much for a fault in a power line to start a large backyard(s), and possibly house(s), destroying fire. It makes much more sense in my opinion to run power lines along the street where any fault is far more visible.

I clearly remember in late 2003 (possibly early 2004) a house near where I live, which is owned by some people I know who were having some renovations at the time, had a faulty power line. Basically what happened is that one night it emitted a series of bangs, however no damage was evident at the time. Unbeknownst to the person who heard the bangs, a small fire had started and was smouldering overnight. The next morning as I was taking Nattie for a walk, just after we past the house we heard a large bang come from their backyard…we rushed back to investigate and noticed that the tradesmen had all stopped work and the power was out…the lady who owned the house came out to see what was going on, only to notice that the power line was on fire. One tradesman in his infinite wisdom decided to spray it with water, resulting in more bangs, a larger fire, and stuff on the power pole melting in to the compost heap on the other side of the fence.

The fire brigade arrived a short time later and dealt with the fire, including preventing it from travelling further along the line to the house (it did come close) after ActewAGL cut the power further upstream. ActewAGL then spent the majority of the day replacing the entire power line, apparently it is something they have to do quite often.

The other type of power line that I really dislike being anywhere near is high voltage power lines, for some reason the absolutely scare the living daylights out of me. In fact, earlier this year when I walked up Mount Majura (an exercise I plan on repeating with a camera in hand) I had to walk under two sets of high voltage power lines, it took me a good minute to compose myself before I could do it, and even then I had to do it quickly. Coming back was worse because it had started to rain, and despite all logic saying that nothing was going to happen, it took me even longer to prepare to walk under the power lines.

So, there you go, my most irrational fear, power lines. Would anyone like to share one of their irrational fears?


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