Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



UPDATED: Utility pole snapped by alleged drunken driver in Fargo

UPDATED 10:02 a.m.

UPDATED 10:02 a.m.

FARGO - Nearly 150 Xcel Energy customers near North Dakota State University lost power today when an alleged drunken driver struck a utility pole, snapping it off and causing the attached electrical transformer to leak hazardous material, police said.

Officers responded to the crash at 1:09 a.m. in the 900 block of College Street North.

The driver of the 2001 Chevy pickup, Katrina Lynn Wilke, 19, of Fargo, was found outside the vehicle at the scene and arrested on suspicion of DUI and cited for minor in possession of alcohol, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

Approximately 25 gallons of hazardous material spilled from the transformer onto the street, Vettel said. Xcel Energy and the Fargo Street Department cleaned up the material and replaced the pole and transformer.


Xcel spokeswoman Bonnie Lund said the power outage affected 147 customers starting at 1:18 a.m. By 2:25 a.m., 111 customers had their power restored, and the remainder had power restored by 6:30 a.m.

Damage to the pole and equipment was estimated at a minimum of $15,000, Vettel said. Lund said she didn't have a damage estimate.

Lund said that when mineral oil spills from a transformer, if the transformer isn't labeled to indicate it's a non-toxic substance such as soy oil, Xcel treats the spill as though it were a hazardous material and follows spill cleanup requirements set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We carefully clean up the site and send a sample of the oil for testing, which is the procedure that was followed by our crews with the incident early this morning," she stated in an e-mail.

Two homes also sustained damage where Xcel's lines were ripped away from them, Lund said. An electrician was repairing the connections.

Vettel said police are investigating a complaint of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after receiving information that the driver had obtained the alcohol at a party.

The driver wasn't hurt, he said.

What To Read Next
Get Local