Copper thieves spark bushfire in Upper Hunter

Fallen power pole and powerlines on singed grass after a fire
Image: Ausgrid

Ausgrid says it is concerned by an increase in reported cases of copper theft on the electricity network with thieves endangering lives and livelihoods by tampering with live powerlines. 

In a recent case, copper thieves sparked a bushfire after cutting down a live power pole in the middle of the night in a remote area of farmland in Muswellbrook. 

The fallen pole caused a spark which ignited the grass, quickly spreading to more than 50ha of farmland. 

Firefighters were quickly on the scene and managed to extinguish the fire before it destroyed any property. 

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Once the fire was out Ausgrid crews confirmed an amount of copper wire had been stolen from the pole. 

Ausgrid general manager field operations Sam Sofi said it was pure luck the offender wasn’t seriously injured or killed. 

“Contact with live powerlines can kill you. There are no second chances with electricity and no amount of copper is worth a life,” Sofi said. 

“Not only do perpetrators put their own lives at risk, they are also endangering the community by leaving live powerlines exposed, interrupting power supply and in this case, igniting fires from the damage they cause.” 

If people see a fallen powerline they should always assume it’s live, stay at least eight metres away and call Ausgrid’s emergency line on 13 13 88.