Fire starts in Indianapolis man’s backyard from downed power line

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The overnight ice storm left thousands without power, as trees and limbs fell across Indiana. Many knocked down power lines and nearly hit cars and homes.

“If you look back there you see there’s a lot of old rotten trees back there,” Indianapolis resident Doug Youtsey said while pointing to the tree line behind his backyard. “It just reached a point where it was time and they came down.”

They came down thanks to an overnight buildup of ice. One of the limbs came crashing down onto a power line, which then fell in Youtsey’s backyard.

“I was in my backroom on the computer doing some work this morning,” Youtsey recalled. “Then all of a sudden there was a big flash and then we saw like a huge fire.”

That fire kept burning as Youtsey and the fire department stood by unable to put it out.

“They couldn’t do anything because you can’t put water on electricity or it blows back at you,” Youtsey said. “So they just kind of stood and watched like we did until IPL got here and turned off the electricity.”

The fire was soon out, but the wire was still smoking on the burnt ground this afternoon. The loss of power is the least of Youtsey’s worries. He said the same thing happened less than a month ago.

“The line was only maybe 8 or 9 feet from the house, or from my wooden deck in the back, so that’s always a scare,” Youtsey said.

Duke Energy was also dealing with outages and downed power lines, saying the southern part of Indiana was hit the hardest.

“Clarksville, Corydon, Aurora, even Bloomington and Columbus,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Lew Middleton. “That’s where most of the damage has taken place.”

At around noon, nearly 50,000 Duke customers and 600 IPL customers were still in the dark.

“We knew that some ice storm activity was going to be on the way overnight,” Middleton said of the storm. “I think it turned out to be a little heavier than we anticipated.”

Both companies said they were fully staffed today, working to get power restored.

“We will work as efficiently and as safely as we possibly can,” Middleton said.

If you come across a downed power line, stay as far away as possible. It is impossible to tell if a wire is live by looking at it.

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