Grand Tower, IL – Faced with a raging inferno and no time to wait for the power company to respond to their rural location, Grand Tower firefighters used a shotgun to take down the live power lines leading to the burning home (video below).
The incident began just after 12 a.m. on Thursday, when a fire broke out at a vacant residence, Grand Tower Fire Department (GTFD) Chief Dennis Wright told Blue Lives Matter the following day.
The volunteer firefighters shut off the gas and electric meters at the house, but still needed the live wires outside the home to be disconnected from the pole so they could fight the blaze more safely.
“So, there wasn’t electric in the house because we shut it off, but we still had the live wire overhead,” Chief Wright explained. “And we had water all around this house – probably a foot deep in places – from working to get the fire out.”
The small town has no city police department. Emergency medical crews are about 18 miles away, and it would take a while for the electric company to make the trip over, the chief said.
That’s when he knew it was time to improvise, so he busted out a shotgun.
“We’ve had to resort to this in the past,” said Chief Wright, who has been with the GTFD for 30 years. “It’s become known as the Grand Tower Electric Disconnect.”
The chief said he has used a shotgun to successfully take down power lines three other times over the years.
“And it worked,” he noted.
But when Chief Wright stopped to tell a local deputy who arrived at the scene what his plan entailed, he was met with disbelief.
“I went over and told him what we’re gonna do,” the chief recounted. “And he said WHAT?!”
Cell phone footage showed the firefighters as they blasted the power lines, cutting the live wires.
“We shot it with steel shot – like duck loads – because the steel will cut it better than the lead,” Chief Wright explained.
Although the blast severed the live wires, the neutral wire had to be cut by the electric company because it was made of a strong steel core.
Despite their best efforts, the firefighters ultimately had to resort to using a backhoe to knock in the walls of the home in order to put out the flames.
Chief Wright said that there was a sump pump, humidifier, electric furnace and a refrigerator operating at the time that the blaze ignited, and that the cause of the fire appears to have been electrical.
The state fire marshal responded to the scene and is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident.
Chief Wright said that no firefighters or civilians were injured as a result of the fire, and that he wouldn’t hesitate to use his improvised electric disconnect technique again if needed in the future.
“Country folks can survive,” he said, referencing the Hank Williams Jr. tune. “We’ll find a way!”
You can watch footage of the latest Grand Tower Electric Disconnect in the video below: