Digger falls at dawn

THURSDAY morning’s tranquillity in North Fremantle was shattered by a “mighty explosion and a flash of light”as an excavator slipped off a truck and onto a power pole, closing a primary school and causing a major blackout.

The excavator had been working at the North Fremantle Primary School, when according to one local resident; “the guys were loading the crane onto the back of a low loader when something gave way – she slipped off sideways and crunched the power pole beside it. Maybe the soil under the truck gave way after the rain.”

As the excavator tipped, its hydraulic arm sheared a power pole cleanly in half, dropping live power lines across the road and narrowly missing the historic Gilbert Fraser grandstand.

• The boss isn’t going to like that: a digger takes out a power pole in North Freo. Photo by Justin Stahl

Despite being in the cab at the time, the machine’s operator was badly shaken but unharmed, with another concerned local resident coming to his rescue with a coffee and two sugars well before the ambulance arrived.

The incident occurred just after 7am according to locals who were awoken by what was described as “an extremely loud, dull thud”, and with the police and Western Power closing nearby roads many children were relieved to find school was closed for the day.

The adjacent Regis Aged Care facility was fortunate enough to have a backup power supply so its residents were largely unaffected, but nearby homes faced a lengthy wait to have their power restored, as generators were trucked in to restore electricity to the individual grids that make up the local system.

Tragedy was narrowly avoided, as despite no injuries or major damage being reported, only the day before “the streets were packed with cars and kids for a big sports carnival” according to a resident.

by JUSTIN STAHL

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