Helicopter washes ash off power poles in Australia

 helicopter pressure washes a power line
Western Power’s helicopter pressure washes a powerline in Pinjar on Friday January 16, 2015, following the Bullsbrook Fire in Western Australia.

The 17,000-acre Bullsbrook Fire in Western Australia destroyed 180 power poles and more than a mile of line. In addition to replacing the damaged equipment, Western Power is using a contracted helicopter to pressure wash the powerline to remove ash which can cause arcing or even start fires.

“From [Friday January 16] and over the weekend, a helicopter crew will fly above the network in the Bullsbrook region and spray powerlines and pole top equipment with demineralised water to safely wash away the build-up of pollution”, Western Power’s Head of Field Operations Brad Lacey said.

“We use demineralised water to prevent the electricity current travelling back up the water stream to the helicopter.”

Mr Lacey said the helicopter would need to hover quite low to spray the powerlines and Western Power advises residents in the Bullsbrook area to move livestock from paddocks that are close to powerlines.

Cleaning the powerlines with water from a helicopter is usually done on a regular basis by the company, but they scheduled this extra cleaning due to the ash deposited by the Bullsbrook Fire.

A helicopter in Western Australia pressure washes a power line in this file photo  from Western Power.
A helicopter in Western Australia pressure washes a power line in this file photo from Western Power.