Intruder at BG&E; gets jolt, is trapped, pulled to safety


A man apparently trying to steal copper wire broke into a Baltimore Gas and Electric plant in Westport this morning and was shocked when he tried to cut through a 13,000-volt power line, officials said.

The power surge threw the unidentified man off a 10-foot high electrical feeder box, trapping him between steel girders behind the equipment. It took firefighters 20 minutes to pull him to safety.

Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a spokesman with the city Fire Department, said the man received second and third degree burns and was rushed to the burn unit at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. His condition was not immediately known. A BGE spokesman, Art Slusark, said the brief power interruption about 8:30 a.m. did not cause an outage to area homes.

The Westport plant, in the 2200 block of Kloman St., in South Baltimore, has been shut down since June 1994, and the substation was kept open to keep power open to workers who are decommissioning the turn-of-the century plant. Mr. Slusark said there are six similar feeder-boxes at the plant -- all but one has been shut down.

Officials said the man broke into the plant by scaling a 10-foot high permitter fence, climbing over chicken wire. He then had to climb another 20-foot steel cage and squeeze through a 2-foot square hole to get to the feeder box, Mr. Slusark said.

Once inside the vault-like, Mr. Slusark said the man somehow came into contact with the power line. Chief Torres said the man tried to cut through the wire, but he did not know if he succeeded. The spokesman said there are numerous no-trespassing signs warning of the high voltage.

Mr. Slusark said the man was found with a bag of cutting tools. The spokesman said 13,000-volts can cause fatal injuries.

Chief Torres said the man was conscious when firefighters arrived. He was pulled to safety about 8:50 a.m.

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