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Cleco encourages cane farmers to use caution when burning fields

Sep 16, 2010

PINEVILLE, La. - Sugarcane harvest is fast approaching, and Cleco urges area farmers not to burn crops located near utility poles.

"Far too often, we are called to replace a pole that has been damaged as farmers burn sugarcane fields," said Mike Bares, Cleco's district manager.  "Most of the time, the poles are part of our transmission system that carry high voltage electricity from our power plants to our substations. Burning these poles can create a disruption in service and a costly repair for a farmer."

Bares added that as fields are burned to remove the leafy material from the sugarcane stalk, the fire, smoke and debris can cause electrical arcing between power lines, which can cause damage to the lines and power outages.

In addition to urging farmers to use caution as they burn, Cleco also reminds farmers to be aware of and avoid power lines while harvesting. "Farm workers need to know where power lines are located as they raise and lower harvesting equipment," said Bares. "It also is life threatening to use objects to hold up power lines so that farm equipment can pass under."

If farm equipment makes contact with a power line, the driver should remain in the equipment until the line is de-energized.  If the operator must leave the equipment due to fire or other life-threatening situations, jump away from the equipment and shuffle away, keeping both feet on the ground at all times.

"We value our farmers and want them to stay safe," said Bares. "Sugarcane is a part of this area's heritage and we want workers to be around for a long time to help keep alive the tradition of farming."