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Electrical cable serving Plaza failed dramatically

 Posted: 4:20 PM August 22, 2013

The failure of a power cable serving the Ashland Plaza sent sparks shooting out the top of the Iron Mike statue's head and cut power to neighboring businesses over the weekend.

A cable's failure left Ashland's downtown business district without power for four hours on Saturday.

Power wasn't restored to the Plaza itself until Wednesday afternoon, leaving it lit at night only by a portable lighting unit.

Mark Holden, director of Ashland Electric Department, said the outage was due to a 40-foot cable fault on Water Street. The cable served the Iron Mike statue, the information booth and the street lights in and around the plaza.

"Due to the cable's age, which was about 20 years, it developed a micro-crack," he said. "If water gets into those cracks, the cable will fault."

He said they aren't worried that any other cables in that area are susceptible to such damage.

According to Holden and City Administrator Dave Kanner, the discharged electricity from the aged cable traveled to the Iron Mike statue and caused sparks to fly out of the top. One man who was drinking from the water fountain nearby was hit by one of the sparks but suffered no injuries.

Electric Department crews had to dig a hole on Water Street where the underground cable was located. The section that was dug up is currently covered by a steel plate and will have to be repaved, Holden said.

— Amanda Barker

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