Power pole collapse baffles

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Mystery surrounds what caused six power poles to collapse, narrowly missing people driving to work and knocking out power to businesses and homes in parts of west Hastings yesterday.

The wooden poles came down across Omahu Rd in the industrial precinct of the city about 9.30am. The incident occurred across from the Gull petrol station, between the intersection of Omahu Rd and Stoney Croft Rd and the intersection of Omahu Rd and the Hawke's Bay Expressway.

The poles also dragged down lines crossing the road and another connecting to the Camberley Court Motel.

Motorists stopped to help emergency services redirect traffic while police put up a cordon along a 500-metre section of Omahu Rd. The road was reopened to one lane of traffic late yesterday afternoon.

Lines company Unison said it had launched an investigation to find out what caused the power poles to fall. Customer care and relationship manager Danny Gough said there had been about 60 staff working to replace the power poles and restore power. The team had worked through the night with the goal of restoring power this morning.

"There's a bit of speculation and a few different scenarios and what we need to do is go through the investigation process over the next few days, look at those poles to determine what caused them to fall over," Mr Gough said.

"We've also supplied some businesses in the area with generators to make sure they're able to keep operating."

About six more wooden power poles stand along the next block of Omahu Rd, heading east towards Hastings, while the rest of the road appeared to cabled underground.

Elishia Pritchard was driving from Flaxmere to Hastings on Omahu Rd when the powerlines came down towards her car.

"My little brother, Steven, who was in the car with me, just said, 'Stop!' I just looked over and saw the power pole falling over and started turning to drive across the road," Miss Pritchard said.

"Another car behind me followed us over to miss being hit. And it's just lucky that there was no on-coming traffic at the time."

Miss Pritchard also had an infant in the car with her.

"I'm just thankful my brother said something otherwise things might have been different," she said.

Her car could not be moved as it was inside the cordon area, along with two other vehicles surrounded by powerlines.

Neighbouring business, Stu MacDonald Motors, on the corner of Omahu Rd and the Hawke's Bay Expressway, offered to take Miss Pritchard home to Flaxmere.

The company's owner, Stu MacDonald, said he had heard the noise of the power poles falling.

"I had just sat down to log into my email when I heard a bang and the power went off. I rushed outside to have a look and couldn't see anything near the poles so I would have thought one of them had come down by itself and dragged down the others with it," Mr MacDonald said.

His business was inside the cordon and people could not access the yard. He hoped the power would be back on today.

"We've had people who have booked in their cars for service, others wanting to come in and pick up cars or buy cars but they can't get in here.

"They [Unison] are working pretty hard to get it fixed. It might cost us some money [in lost business] but I think the important thing is that no one died."

Neighbouring business PAK-Line hired a generator to power its plant so it could complete work yesterday.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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