Late last week, a massive wind storm cut a swath through Montreal, wreaking havoc across the city and surrounding area. The storm’s 63 mph winds took down power lines in the nearby suburb of Lachine, resulting in a fiery electrical orb that terrorized local residents.
Luckily, one of those residents was bold enough to pull out his camera phone to record video of the crackling fireball as it passed through the power lines outside his home. According to an interview conducted with The Huffington Post, the resident said he was prepared to capture the video because a similar electrical phenomenon had passed by the same way only 15 minutes earlier.
In classic utility company fashion, the resident has yet to receive an official response addressing his complaints about the twin fireballs that surged past his home. He told the Post that the best explanation he had been offered so far came from an electrical engineer who reached out via Reddit.
This video has been popping up all over the internet in the week since it was recorded and there has been much conversation about the shocking images it contains. But no one in the ‘mainstream media’ is really asking how or why, preferring the just let the video play out for the ‘WOW’ factor. Well, at The Service Coach, we work with some of the best electricians in the country every day and we feel we wouldn’t be doing them justice if we didn’t attempt to break down this epic electrical event and explain it for the common man.
According to Reddit’s helpful electrical engineer, that ‘fireball’ was actually a “high impedance electrical arcing fault.” An arcing fault is basically an abnormal electric current that occurs during extremely high voltage events between system conductors and the ground. In most cases, these types of phenomena are prevented with protective devices like your fuse box, circuit breaker or an auto-recloser. An auto-recloser is a surge protection device often found on telephone poles, overhead power lines and electrical substations which can automatically close the breaker after it has been activated due to a fault.
So there are supposed to be fail-safes in place to prevent this kind of stuff—they just didn’t work too well this time. Sounds like a power company in Montreal might have some explaining to do. In conclusion, we would like to take a moment to thank our camera-wielding Quebecer who was brave (or foolhardy) enough to catch the whole incident on video. Well done, sir.
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