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Victorians urged to be careful in flood impacted areas near powerlines

Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is urging Victorians in flood-impacted areas to be wary around powerlines after efforts to move a bogged four-wheel drive resulted in a tree falling and causing a power outage.

ESV has investigated an incident, which occurred just outside the Gippsland town of Noojee on 31 October when a four-wheel drive became stuck following heavy rains across the state.

The driver called in a towing company, which attended, tying a winching strap from the car to a nearby tree in order to get it out. As the car was being pulled out, the tree fell over, hitting overhead powerlines, located just above the bogged vehicle.

The falling tree contacted nearby powerlines and while the lines did not break, it did cause electricity safety systems to operate, leaving 694 surrounding properties without power for more than five hours.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

The incident has prompted ESV to remind Victorians to consider all hazards before carrying out any winching activities – taking into account overhead powerlines and the condition of the ground.

If the community is using a tree as an anchor point, ensure it is far enough away from any powerlines so that if does fall, power lines won’t be impacted.

This may be particularly important in Victoria’s flood affected areas where the chances of getting a vehicle bogged has been much higher this year.

Never use a power pole or transmission tower as an anchor point when winching a vehicle as they are not designed for this purpose and may be damaged. It is illegal to damage or interfere with the electricity networks.

If powerlines have fallen, stay at least eight-to-ten metres away, as a person can still be shocked when approaching.

Over the past decade, ESV’s Look Up and Live campaign has also warned machinery operators to be aware of their work environment and check for powerlines before work commences.

For more information on powerline safety and ESV’s Look Up and Live campaign, go to https://esv.vic.gov.au/campaigns/look-up-and-live.

ESV Chairperson and Commissioner Marnie Williams

“While this is not a common incident, it does highlight the need for Victorians to be extra vigilant when driving in flood-impacted areas.”

“It also serves as a warning to avoid using trees or any potentially unstable objects to winch bogged vehicles.”

“This incident could have ended up being a lot worse, but luckily no one was injured when the powerlines came down.”

Media contact: Adrian Bernecich 0437 729 194 | adrian.bernecich@energysafe.vic.gov.au