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Humans and pets can be electrocuted without touching power lines because charge travels through ground

COURTESY PHOTO - A downed power line on Northwest Killin Road led to a small brush fire and the death of a family dog Tuesday.A family dog died when it was electrocuted by a downed power line Tuesday morning near Northwest Killin Road in Banks.

According to Banks Fire District spokesman Mitch Ward, wind apparently blew the top half of a dead tree down onto a power line, knocking the line to the ground. The line did not fall directly on the dog but the dog apparently went to investigate and came close enough to receive the electric charge coming from the line.

Ward said people or animals don't need to touch a downed power line to be electrocuted because the charge can be carried through the ground, particularly if it's wet, when electricity can travel easily and reach people or animals 15 to 20 feet away. On drier ground the charge doesn't carry as far.

The power line started a brush fire that burned a 10-foot by 30-foot patch of land along the side of Killin Road before firefighters from Banks and the Oregon Department of Forestry extinguished it.

Following standard procedure, fire crews waited for Portland General Electric (PGE) workers to respond and safely cut the power before they finished the job.

Call 911 to report any downed power lines or poles.

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