Thieves risk electrocution by stealing live power lines

Thieves risk electrocution by stealing live power lines
Detail from an electrocution warning sign

EUGENE, Ore. - Pacific Power said wire thieves going for extremely dangerous but lucrative scores by pulling down live transmission wires are to blame for the overnight power outage in Lane and Linn counties.

The power outages Sunday affected Pacific Power customers in Harrisburg, Junction City, Lancaster and Brownsville. Because the Emerald People's Utility District relies on Pacific Power transmission lines, the outage affected Veneta, Elmira and Noti, too.

Power company officials estimated 7,000 customers were without power overnight as a result of the theft.

Wire thieves have hit Pacific Power four times since last Thursday alone in Albany, Brownsville, Halsey and at a station west of Harrisburg.

Spokesman Tom Gauntt said Pacific Power has been dealing with wire theft in California and Washington, too.

But only in Oregon have thieves tried to pull down "live wire," which is really dangerous - but can lead to big scores.

In this case, thieves cut down a fence and pulled down a power supply line.

Power went out around 5 p.m. and was back on around 2 a.m.