Fla. Firefighters Tangle with 7500-Volt Power Line

HIALEAH, Fla. --

An early-morning fire sparked by downed power line prompted the evacuation of a Hialeah neighborhood Tuesday morning.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the 7500-volt power line to fall in the middle of the night, and why power was not immediately cut to the fallen line.

The power line fell on an efficiency apartment behind a home at 6443 East Sixth Avenue. Residents told Local 10's Kellie Butler it sounded like an explosion.

Frank Lopez's aunt, uncle and cousin were inside their apartment when the line hit and their home caught fire. They managed to get out safely.

“When they opened the door, a ball of fire came out and they had to hit the floor,” he said.

When Hialeah firefighters arrived, the line was still energized and had electrified a chain link fence surrounding the property. The heat was so intense, it welded part of a gate shut.

According to investigators, if any of the residents or firefighters had touched the fence, the outcome could have been tragic.

Firefighters were not able to extinguish the fire until Florida Power and Light crews cut off power to the neighborhood, leaving 600 homes without electricity.

“Every time that power line was re-energized, it would jump and bounce and make contact with several objects in the back and just create more fires and more explosions," said Hialeah Fire Lt. Mario Pico, one of the first firefighters to arrive.

An FPL spokeswoman told Local 10 that usually when a fault is detected in a line, a safety mechanism will automatically shut down power to the rest of the line.

The investigation into what happened is under way.

No one was injured during the incident. FPL said Tuesday afternoon that power has been restored to all the surrounding homes.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced families.

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