One of the dozens of poles that caught fire early Thursday. (Photo by Kyle Muscarello)
WACO (December 6, 2012)-Power poles in as many as five Central Texas counties were burning Thursday morning and authorities were trying to find out why.
A Department of Public Safety communications officer said power poles in Hill, Falls, Bell, Williamson and McLennan counties mysteriously began bursting into flames at about 4 a.m. Thursday.
He said the fires that had been reported were burning at the tops of the poles, some involving transformers.
Various power company representatives had been dispatched to survey the damage and several fire departments were sent to douse the flames.
One power company technician told a News 10 reporter near McGregor that the fires likely were caused by a build up of dust on transformers that shorted out due to low-lying fog.
Mike Cain, spokesman for Oncor, said he could not confirm that cause for all the locations but that power company inspectors were out trying to determine the cause of the fires.
The Oncor web page showed a total of 4,253 customers without power in McLennan, Bell, Falls and Williamson counties as of 8 a.m.
Cain said crews should have power restored to those customers by mid-day.
As many as 30 power poles were burning in one area of Hill County, just off Interstate 35 at mile marker 361.
As many as 20 poles were reported burning in Bynum east of Hillsboro and and others in the Aquilla area where some customers were without power.
There were poles on fire along Highway 6 near Falls County roads 112 and 113 that had forced closure of Highway 6 and had stopped trains along an adjacent railroad line for about an hour but traffic was moving normally by about 5:45 a.m.
Some limited power outages were reported in the area around Perry, just north of Marlin.
Power pole fires also were reported in at least two locations in Waco, just north of Troy, just south of the Falls County line on Interstate 35 in Bell County, near Lorena and west of Waco along U.S. Highway 84.
Areas of west Waco were without power at about 6:20 a.m.after transformers failed near Hillcrest Hospital.
Baylor University reported portions of campus were in the dark at about 7 a.m.
Traffic lights were reported out at Texas Central Parkway near Imperial Drive and along Bagby near the Marketplace.
Police officers had been dispatched to direct traffic as commuters headed out for the morning.
Fire departments in McGregor and Moody were dealing with power pole fires as well.