In early July 2011, SE Michigan got blasted with a set of storms.
My electrical company, DTE, let a 50,000 volt line stay live for 72 hours, keeping my back yard on fire. Despite countless phone calls, they continued to work for 72 hours on getting other customer's power back on before they would turn our line off. Under advise from our fire department, we watched the line & fire for 72 hours (taking shifts sleeping) until they shut the power to the line off. The storm was stressful enough. I can't say how stressful it was to watch your back yard be on fire that long, and have the fire department say they can't go near it. I'm wondering if we have any claim against DTE. I'm thinking along the lines of emotional distress from negligence. They knew about the danger to life and property, and put getting other people's power on ahead of our issue for 3 whole days.
Here's a link to a video I shot when it had just about started. It got much worse, but I didn't shoot any additional video.
Many trees went down in my neighborhood, several through houses. One of my neighbor's tall trees came down, and snapped one of the 50,000 volt primary transmission lines that run along our back yard (this is one of the extremely deadly ones, not just a regular high voltage line.) One end fell into our back yard, dangling on the fence, trees, and shrubbery. Immediately after the storm, we heard a horrible electrical arcing sound.
DTE's emergency line said their system was only accepting automated submissions, that no agents were available to do overwhelming issues. So, I called 911. Within a few minutes, the arcing quickly set the shrubbery on fire, despite everything being soaked wet from all the rain.
The fire department came out, and an hour later said their dispatcher was still on hold trying to get in touch with a person at DTE, about my fire and two others in Westland due to downed wires. Apparently DTE has an unlisted phone number for city dispatchers to be able to call - this way, the city dispatcher can sit on hold for a longggg time to speak to someone, but it at least doesn't say they're only accepting automated calls and hang up on the person. They gave me this number, and said I could try calling them too.
I'm a squeeky wheel, so I was calling the DTE city emergency line every 1-2 hours, after my last conversation with them. That night, hold times were over an hour each. They kept saying for 72 hours they couldn't give an ETA to get the line shut off.
Each time I spoke with them, I asked for a supervisor. I explained I knew a lot of people were without power, and I wasn't asking to have my power back -- I just wanted the line turned off. I explained that my backyard was on fire. I explained that it was dangling on a metal fence, and that everyone has metal fences linked together in my neighborhood, so there was an electricution hazard even like 10-20 houses away.
No line crews showed up, but a few DTE workers who weren't line workers came by to see the fire, and verify that the situation was really bad.
DTE supervisors kept blaming it on dispatch, saying they were sending in escalated priority tickets, but that dispatch kept sending out non-line workers and ignoring the tickets.
Fire department finally left about 6 hours into the fire, saying they couldn't sit there the whole time that it burned. They of course can't use water to fight it, and said all they could do is spray foam on our house if it got significantly closer to the house. Luckily the fire never got closer than 8-10 feet.
Fire department told us to watch the fire, and call back if it got closer to the house. So, my wife and I got to take shifts watching the line for 72 hours making sure the house didn't burn down, while frantically making phone calls to supervisors at DTE begging to just have the line shut off.
All this, while DTE was busy at work in my subdivision getting the rest of the neighborhood's power back on. I'd even drive by DTE trucks, begging them to shut it off, and they all said they had to follow the tickets in order given by dispatch, while they saw smoke off in the distance. The head line crewman that eventually came by said quite a few things about DTE that I can't repeat. He was very upset about the non-important jobs they had been having him do for the past few days when this was still going on.