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Cleco encourages cane farmers to use caution when burning fields

Sep 30, 2011

PINEVILLE, La. – Sugarcane is ripe for harvesting, and Cleco reminds cane farmers as they burn their fields to be aware of utility poles.

“Unfortunately, when farmers burn their fields after sugarcane harvesting, our poles can be damaged and many times must be replaced,” said Cleco District Manager Mike Bares. “Farmers and the business they bring to our area are invaluable, and we appreciate their hard work. However, burning poles is costly to the farmer and can be dangerous to the public.”

According to Cleco, as the fields are burned, smoke, fire and debris can cause electrical arcing between power lines, which can cause damage to the lines and power outages. “Many times power lines located in fields are high voltage transmission lines, which transport power from our plants to our substations. Damage to these lines can cause large power outages and can be very hazardous,” said Bares.

While protecting utility poles from fire damage, Cleco also encourages farmers to remain cautious of power lines as they drive farm equipment through fields. Equipment that extends upward to the height of power lines can cause a hazard to workers located inside and outside of the harvesting equipment.

“We encourage farm workers to watch out for their fellow co-workers and help them avoid contact with a power line,” said Bares. “We’ve heard stories where workers have used boards to raise power lines so the equipment could pass under. This can be a deadly act, and we absolutely want to discourage this practice.”

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. Never touch the ground and equipment at the same time.