CUC warns owners over trees after pole fire

| 07/01/2020 | 57 Comments
Cayman News Service
CUC light pole fire

(CNS): The local power provider on Grand Cayman said trees close to power lines need to be properly maintained and owners must not to plant new ones within ten feet of electrical lines, as they represent a significant safety hazard . The warning from Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) comes after one of its utility poles caught fire at the weekend after a tree next to the pole was struck by lightning. The blaze impacted over 1,300 customers and caused significant disruption.

The pole ignited from the tree fire at Lime Tree Bay condos at around 6pm on Saturday evening, 4 January, causing a power outage for customers from the Ritz-Carlton on the West Bay Road and Esterley Tibbetts Highway to the Hydesville Substation on Willie Farrington Drive in West Bay.

The Cayman Islands Fire Service was immediately called to the scene to extinguish the blaze before CUC’s line crews were able to begin work to safely restore the power. The linesmen worked throughout Saturday night and into the early morning hours to repair the damaged equipment. The last customers affected did not get power back until after 1:30am on Sunday.

CUC apologised to customers for the power cut.

People who have trees that need addressing can contact CUC for assistance with trimming, as they represent a significant safety hazard.

Contact the CUC customer service team at 949-5200, e-mail or visit the CUC website.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (57)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I just light my own trees and not worry.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Called the CUC number as advertised this morning, for trimming advice. First got the main CUC switchboard, after a long list of options I reached the operator, who put me through to the person responsible for this issue.

    Typically, there was no answer. So I left a voice mail…10 hours later, and I am still waiting for a call back.

    Maybe you need more responsible people available.

  3. Dan says:

    Bury the cables…yes it is expensive but cheaper in long term.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure why the powers at be have not forced this. Especially when we are threatened by hurricanes.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman Islands Gov’t should have created a public entity to acquire transmission infrastructure after Ivan, and buried it all like Bermuda did decades ago, and leased the lines back to CUC. Nobody with any thoughts from the 21st Century, sadly.

    • Anonymous says:

      notveven wxp naive fron CUCs perspective as they can call that a capital expense and recover profit on it under the rate agreement.

  4. Anonymous says:

    CUC – please start routinely placing wires underground. It not only will make Cayman more attractive but will also make the infrastructure much more hurricane resistant.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, and they’re sure fireworks were not involved?

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about the fact when CUC install wires over my existing trees without any consultation and come onto my property to do it without asking? Top of Marina Drive – 2 years ago…

  7. Anonymous says:

    In the UK no trees are allowed near cables. If this happens, the owner has to cut them back. If they don’t cut them back the electrical provider will do the job and send you the bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      My home is in a rural area of the UK with overhead power lines. Last time I was back there you could see that a lot of the power lines and trees were pretty close together, some lines were actually running through the trees. The grid is managed by UK Power Networks and apparently they simply monitor the situation and take remedial action when required. As for, ‘send you the bill’? Most of the trees are on public or common land so that doesn’t fly.

      My opinion is this was another fire in a CUC pole-mounted transformer and they’re trying to shift the blame.

      • Anonymous says:

        There is no transformer on the pole in the video. Guess that rules out your opinion.

        • Anonymous says:

          saw the lightning strike, it hit with a bang. Gods judgment as it was a very, very naughty tree

          • Anonymous says:

            Ah, but did it hit the naughty tree, which is supposedly lower than the wires and the pile. Did the tree get hit and set fire to the pole, or vice versa. Sounds like treeism to me.

            Apart from all that, more fundamental question. How does losing one pole at Lime Tree black out all of West Bay? Are you saying CUC has no transmission line redundancy? A single list pole screws everyone North if it until as long as it takes CUC to replace it? And the same applies to very one South or East of GT as well?

        • Anonymous says:

          More than meets the eye.

    • Anonymous says:

      Transmission lines are not owned by the Municipal government, and CUC is not a Public Utility, though they have in the past acted as if they were. Responsibility rests with landowners and property managers, in this case: BCQS.

  8. No one saw lightening. says:

    People on the Red Sail catamaran that was sailing in the North Sound at the time of the fire, said that they did not see a lightening strike. They reported watching the storm clouds and heavy sheets of rain that was falling to the south of North Sound, then all of a sudden seeing the flames and smoke from the tree and pole on fire from their vantage point in the Sound. No one on the boat saw lightening. So wha happen?

    • Anonymous says:

      High voltage transformer, salt, rain, and a flammable medium (that should not have been there) flapping against it. End of story.

    • Anonymous says:

      The bright flash, loud bangs and fire was caused by the sparks from the short circuit that the wet tree created with the power lines. So you see while there was lightening, there was no lightning!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been waiting two years since I first asked CUC to cut back a tree in the corner of my yard. Good luck with that

    • Anonymous says:

      9:32, Don’t be so damn lazy. The tree is on your property. DO IT YOURSELF.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why should anyone have to go to the expense and risk injury of doing that themselves when the lines in most cases are installed AFTER the trees are already there

    • Anonymous says:

      Do it yourself – lazy cheap a$$

      • Jessica says:

        I have the same issue. CUC has said in the past that they are to be called to ensure no damage to the power lines… you still have to pay CUC to cut back the trees beyond the first request so chill.

      • Anonymous says:

        Internet turns people into abusive monsters. Was it necessary to call a person you know nothing about names?
        He could be disabled, it could be a woman, the tree could be too large for one person to handle, etc.
        I bet you wouldn’t have said that into his face.

        • Anonymous says:

          Taking out rage on a computer rather than the real source of their miserable lives. I would mention the caymanian man electrocuted a while back was working near a tree by lone star. There is danger concerned when attempting to do it yourself. Its not advisable, CUC are the experts let them deal with it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Too many snowflakes on this island who can’t even blow their noses.

            • Anonymous says:

              Too many service providers who can’t be arsed to do their job properly either. Take your pick. post office who don’t give a damn about postal deliveries( even to a mailbox in their own premises), customs who can’t clear a parcel or consignment unless hounded, traffic police who stir themselves once a year to their job, Cayman Airways who don’t really care if your flight is on time or they have a practical solution to their aircraft being inoperable, NAU who are happy to do jack and let private charities take up the slack…

      • Anonymous says:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Why would they erect a pole next to a tree? Utility poles maintenance is not the job of the property owners.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nine months ago I was told that the CUC line trimmers were coming to my property to cut down trees that had grown up…not planted by me. Four months ago they confirmed they were coming. They have not shown up yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cut the damn trees yourself 7:45.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am not Caymanian, however, in my country one would do it oneself. Don’t understand why you did not do it yourself. God helps those who help themselves.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because it is dangerous.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, dangerous if you are a snowflake.

          • Anonymous says:

            I have a rural property in Canada and I fell trees several times a year. Tree felling is inherently dangerous, but provided you follow the rules you can significantly mitigate the risks. However, I would never fell next to a power line – just too dangerous if you get it wrong, to say nothing of the consequences to others if you screw it up. And I would never consider lopping branches above head height or working above ground level without a cherry picker and the proper equipment.

            Suggesting that the average householder should run out and either lop branches next to a power line 30ft off the ground or fell the entire tree next to the line is just pure BS from someone who has never done the work. Don’t call them a snowflake when you haven’t any clue of the practical difficulties.

  12. Anonymous says:

    They need to move their wires and poles away from my trees.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I live nearby – there wasn’t any lightning.

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