Windy weather wreaks havoc on Greeley power lines, trees and displaces squirrels; Greeley Fire squelches grass fire
October 17, 2016
When Helen Hergenreder came up from the basement of her Greeley home Monday afternoon, the tree in her front yard was laying on its side.
The wind got to it, she said.
The wind got to a lot of things Monday, with a high-wind watch and a red-flag fire warning from the National Weather Service in Boulder.
Several power lines went down throughout Greeley, causing power outages and other issues for more than 800 Xcel Energy customers, according to the outage map on the electric company's website. Residents put up with 30 mph winds, with gusts up to 45 mph Monday afternoon.
Greeley Fire Marshall Pete Morgan said they had several crews out responding to the power lines that fell. He said the people who called them to take care of it did the right thing.
"Even if they're not arcing or sparking, they could be energized," he said, which means they could electrocute somebody who touches them. "People should never assume that they're not energized, so they should always have the fire department or power company respond."
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Morgan also warned people to be aware of the heightened fire risk in the blustering wind. The weather service asked residents to avoid any unnecessary fires until the wind subsided, which is expected today.
Morgan's concerns were validated in the afternoon when a brush fire broke out at U.S. 34 and Colo. 257.
The Greeley Fire Department sent two trucks and a brush truck, as well as a brush truck from Front Range Fire Department to the grass fire, which was quickly quenched. Greeley Police Department also was on scene.
"It caused some traffic issues so Greeley PD also assisted on the traffic," Morgan said. "(The fire) was obviously complicated by the winds."
Morgan said it's important to adhere to the barricades they put up in all extreme weather situations.
"Don't drive through areas that are blocked, whether with a fire apparatus, police car or just orange cones," he said. When drivers do so, "they're putting themselves and first responders in danger by passing through those barricades."
And first responders have enough to worry about when they're on a scene.
Hergenreder said she's sad to lose her pretty, colorful tree at the height of the fall colors, but she's glad the damage was pretty mild — especially compared to others in town.
She said there appeared to be no damage to her house or any other property except the ground where the roots came up. But she did say the squirrels seemed a bit confused. She said they are used to running down from the weeping willow tree on the property and right over to the tree that fell.
"A squirrel came down and he just stopped confused," she said. "I guess he thought, 'Oh, what do I do now?'"