Farm Accident in Morgan Shuts Down US 67, Power to Thousands in Cass

By Jeremy Coumbes on April 10, 2023 at 10:23pm

Photos Courtesy of Jacksonville/Morgan County Office of Emergency Management

More than 5,000 customers lost electrical service in Cass County after a farming accident in Morgan County Monday Morning.

US 67 in northwestern Morgan County was closed for approximately nine hours today from Koch Lane to the Cass County line after electrical transmission lines fell across the busy highway.

Brian Bretch with Ameren Illinois says an accident in a farm field caused the lines to come down. “Along US 67 there was a farmer working and their piece of equipment got entangled with one of our guy wires. And what a guy wire is, that’s the wire that runs from the pole to the ground at an angle. It helps support the pole in wind and when people hit the pole. So when this piece of equipment caught on that it pulled down a Highline.”

The pole brought down a major transmission line that services a large area of Cass County. Bretch says approximately 5,200 customers lost power around 9:40 Monday morning including areas in and around Beardstown, Virginia, and Chandlerville.

It was one of our sub-transmission lines that go through the area, and those are the bigger voltages that serve more of the customer base so that’s why the number was at 5,200. We were able to get out there right away and assess the damage, call our folks in our distribution operations center and they were able to reroute the power.”

Morgan County ESDA Coordinator Phil McCarty confirmed a small grass fire sparked by the fallen lines was extinguished by members of the Meredosia and Arenzville Fire Departments. No injuries were reported, and power was restored in roughly an hour to most customers following the incident. US 67 was reopened to traffic at 6:30 pm Monday.

Bretch says in instances like this where a utility pole has come down, always assume the lines on the ground are energized. “I often ask people when I’m just talking and they ask what I do and I tell them and they say well that’s an interesting job.

So then I say let me give you a quick safety tip. If you look up in the air at the pole that we are looking at right now, can you tell me between a telephone, cable, and a power line? Ninety-Nine percent of the time folks tell me no.

So my safety tip is, if you don’t know the difference between any of those, always assume that they are a power line and that they are energized. Stay about twenty or thirty feet away and keep all friends and pets away”

Bretch says then call 911 to report the downed line, and then call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000.