Power line mishap near Fairfax claims life

FAIRFAX-A power line work site electrocution claimed the life of a worker and injured another person Monday morning.

The Renville County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 8:43 a.m. Monday about an accident at a power line work site northeast of Fairfax. Emergency responders arrived at the scene, along the CapX2020 power line and continued efforts to resuscitate two victims.

Two victims were flown from the scene by North Air Care and Life Link III helicopters to Twin Cities metro area trauma centers, where one man died from injuries suffered at the work site. The condition of the other victim was unknown at the time a news release was distributed by the Renville County Sheriff’s Office.

The victims’ names were being withheld, pending notification of family members, the release said.

Agencies assisting at the scene were Fairfax Fire & Ambulance, North Ambulance-Redwood Falls and the Renville County Sheriff’s Office.

CapX2020 project spokeswoman Lori Buffington says the two worked for Donovan Construction of Ham Lake. A Donovan Construction spokesman says the man who died is from the Twin Cities, and the injured man, from Osseo, Wisconsin, is being treated in the HCMC burn unit, according to the Associated Press.

The accident is being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry/OSHA and the Renville County Sheriff’s Office.

Last August, an Oklahoma man died from head injuries suffered when he fell 20 to 30 feet to the bottom of a 50-foot hole dug for a 140-foot tall, CapX2020 power pole near New Prague. A project spokesman said it appeared a strap suspending the worker as he was being lowered into the hole by a crane broke. Another worker was injured in the mishap but was treated and released.

Started in 2004, CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities including cooperatives and investor-owned and municipal utilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin formed to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid.

The largest new transmission development in the upper Midwest in yearly 40 years, the project costing more than $2 billion is scheduled to be completed in 2015. It covers nearly 800 miles and includes four 345 kV transmission lines and one 230 kV line.

Minnesota, North and South Dakota utilities in the project are the Central and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agencies, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, WPPI and Xcel Energy.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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