This incident was certainly a unique one for Winkler Fire Department, with Chief Richard Paetzold indicating they rarely respond to this sort of call.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, a call came in indicating “the ground was on fire” along North Railway Avenue, near the corner of 1st Street (Highway 32).

“Initially we had to discern what was happening, so a Winkler Police Service drone was used to determine the source of the fire,” explained Paetzold. “It was an exposed part of a buried abandoned live electrical power line that was arcing in a dramatic fashion, producing enough smoke and steam that much of North Railway was obscured for a time.”

He noted police and fire cordoned off the area until Manitoba Hydro arrived and de-energized the line, although it took quite some time to determine the source powering the line. According to the Chief, firefighters were on scene 2 & ½ hours until that was completed.

“It did burn off what wire was exposed at the surface, and the fire went out, but for life safety priorities, we were concerned there was still power to the line below the surface, and had to ensure it was de-energized.”

The cause remains under investigation, and there was no damage due to where the line was located on that part of the street.

Paetzold stressed it was fortunate no one encountered the exposed powerline prior to the early morning incident.