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Iron Mike shoots sparks on the Plaza

Faulty cable was the cause of mishap; no one was hurt
 Posted: 2:00 AM August 23, 2013

A man was drinking from the water fountain in downtown Ashland's Plaza Saturday when sparks rained down on him from the nearby Iron Mike statue.

It turns out Iron Mike wasn't casting thunderbolts.

Instead, electricity that discharged from a faulty underground cable on Water Street had traveled to the statue, causing sparks to fly out of the top.

The man suffered no injuries, but the damaged cable left the downtown business district in Ashland without power for four hours.

Power wasn't restored in the Plaza island until Tuesday afternoon, forcing officials to use a portable lighting unit at night.

Mark Holden, director of the Ashland Electric Department, said the 40-foot cable, which serviced the Iron Mike statue, the information booth and the street lights in and around the Plaza, failed because of its age.

"The cable is about 20 years old and it developed a micro-crack," he said. "If water gets into those cracks, the cable will fault."

He said he's not worried that any other cables are susceptible to such damage.

Ashland Electricity Department crews had to dig a hole on Water Street to reach the underground cable. The hole is covered by a steel plate and will have to be repaved, Holden said.

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