Volunteer firefighters from Rimbey rescued a man who was trapped in his vehicle, which was covered in power lines as a fire burned nearby.
The incident occurred just before 5 a.m. on Thursday when a cube truck being driven on Hwy 766 west of Rimbey went through the Hwy 53 intersection.
The truck rolled over in the ditch and took out a power pole carrying heavy lines, Rimbey Fire and Rescue chief John Weisberger said.
The three-phase power lines are big lines and part of a large crossover system at the junction, he said.
The box on the truck, which appeared to be mainly carrying auto parts, was torn off.
The fire started in the load just as firefighters arrived, said Weisberger. It was not in the truck cab, where the driver was trapped.
Firefighters were unable to get to the driver for the first 20 minutes, until a power employee arrived and assured them the lines were no longer live.
“You never know.”
Weisberger said fortunately the power employee responded quickly because he lived nearby.
Unable to access the vehicle, firefighters used a dry chemical to treat the fire. They could not use water because of the uncertainly about whether the power lines were live.
“In this case it ended up not too bad … it can escalate very quickly if it starts to burn a lot and he’s still trapped in there and he can’t get out.”
The driver was aware the fire was burning. “He was not very good with that, like anybody would be. Put yourself in there and you’re stuck.”
The Jaws of Life were used to free the man, who was taken by ambulance to Rimbey Hospital.
“He was fortunate. There was no doubt about that,” Weisberger said.
The fire chief took the incident in stride, when asked about the risk to firefighters at the scene, “No more than the normal risks that people do on this job.”
The extent of the man’s injuries are unknown. The Rimbey RCMP officer attending the scene was unavailable for comment.
Road conditions were good at the time. However, once the firefighters arrived, it did get icy.
Fortis Alberta reported on its website that the power was knocked out in the area at 4:40 a.m. and nine customers were affected, and it would take until about 2 p.m. on Thursday to restore power.