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Thousands lose power in Yakima area because of rain over the weekend

Thousands lose power over the weekend in Yakima area because of rain.

YAKIMA, Wash.- Usually when water falls from the sky, it helps make firefighters jobs a little easier, right?

This time, rain became the reason firefighters were responding to so many fires on top of power poles this weekend.

Ry Schwark at Pacific Power said this usually happens when it rains after a dry spell and the water mixes with the debris that has built up on the power lines.

"Pure rain water is not conductive, but when you put dust in it, it can become conductive and that's what actually causes the problem," he said.

While the fires are easy to put out, they cause power outages and over 3,000 people in the Yakima area were left in the dark.

Almost 1,000 people lost power in Selah and Fire Chief Gary Hanna with the Selah Fire Department said these small blazes can put pressure on already short-staffed fire departments.

"Anytime we have a high call volume it tends to strain us a little bit," he said.

Hanna said they have to work with Pacific Power to fix the problem.

"Pacific power is usually pretty prompt,” he said. “They understand the seriousness of it and get out there to help us out pretty quickly."

Even though Pacific Power and the firefighters were able to get most neighborhoods back to normal quickly, there was a call about downed power lines as well.

Schwark wants to remind everyone that downed power lines should be treated as if they are live and dangerous.

"If you see a line down please stay well away,” he said. “10 feet or more and treat it as it's live and call 911 at once."

With the first full day of rain out of the way, Schwark expects these pole fires and power outages to happen less often, because the rain and wind clean out the debris to make it safer.

He also said that everyone should have an emergency kit at home just to make sure they are prepared for any other future outages that may happen.

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