Salt contamination, rain leads to fires causing thousands to lose power in Hampton Roads

Posted at 11:23 AM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 17:40:27-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - While our region certainly has been in need of some rain, it has brought fire with it, causing power outages to thousands of Dominion Energy customers.

"This is a mix for a disaster. It's everything altogether, like bad timing," said Chief Damon Langley with Norfolk Fire and Rescue.

According Langley and Dominion Energy, at least 25 power poles caught fire before 1 p.m. Tuesday across Hampton Roads due to salt contamination issues.

"When we have a combination of the winds coming out of the northeast, it brings a lot of salinity from the ocean onto the equipment. It sits there and deposits there for a while combined with lack of rain for the area," said Langley.

A perfect storm, briny build up and a light drizzle is to blame. Langley said electricity is then forced to find an alternate conductive path, causing arcing, then boom - a transformer blows.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue is also stressing that people be careful around power poles in the area because they may be energized and harmful to touch.

"These are pretty sporadic. You can ride down the road, see a spark, not see anything and then five minutes later, a pole is on fire," said Langley.

Here is a look at the current outages in Hampton Roads as of 4 p.m. Tuesday:

  • Virginia Beach - 4,921
  • Norfolk - 987
  • Chesapeake - 897
  • Portsmouth - 76
  • York - 29

Total: Southeastern Virginia 6,916

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