August 30, 2007

They Just Don't Mix!

Power lines and aircraft just don't go well together.

Witness a widespread power outage in the northern Black Hills Friday morning (August 31st). Shortly after 8 o'clock, power went off in Belle Fourche, Newell, Spearfish, and several other communities. Those of us in Spearfish were treated to non-stop sirens for about an hour as emergency vehicles of every kind descended on a farm field about two miles north of Spearfish on Old Belle Road.

An ultra-glider had collided with high tension power lines, causing a short that tripped electrical breakers, thus knocking out power to many communities in both Butte and Lawrence counties.

According to KOTA-TV, the pilot was 51-year-old Ron Tietjen of Spearfish. He was flying south when his aircraft came into contact with the lines. Tietjen was found waiting next to the plane with minor cuts when police arrived, apparently not seriously injured. "Perhaps just his pride," quipped one power company worker. In addition to emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officials, there were numerous workers from Butte Electric Cooperative and Black Hills Power on the scene.

We normally don't do "breaking news" on this blog. But this incident was nearly on our doorstep, and it's hard to quell an old reporter's curiosity when sirens sound. Besides, there was no breakfast until power could be restored!

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