Our names are John Milner and Kim Taylor, and you might have read about the avalanche on the night of Feb. 25 that struck our home at 137 Audubon Place. Our home has been severely impacted by it, as have we and other homeowners on our street.
The avalanche happened at approximately 11:05 p.m. that Monday night. We had just gone to bed and had left the area of greatest impact only a few minutes before it struck our home. We witnessed a large, bright flash of light (other people south of us in the Hailey area have said they witnessed it, too), followed immediately by a large bang, a rushing thundering blast of air and a huge bang as it hit our house.
The next day, a line man from Idaho Power Co. came by to see if there were any electrical issues and mentioned to Kim that sometimes the transmission lines with this heavy, wet snow will wobble and hit each other, creating large flashes. The existing transmission line is at least a half mile from our house and around the hillside, but we don’t think that this made any difference, in that it wasn’t directly next to our house but it does run up the back side of the mountain that avalanched.
We strongly believe that it’s no coincidence that the flash of light from the transmission line wobble was immediately followed by the large boom and the avalanche. In the summer, this easily could have started a fire. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center has said this was the biggest avalanche in this area in 30 years. The recent fire in Paradise, Calif., that killed 85 people appears to be also caused by transmission line failure/sparking.
In light of these serious issues with people getting killed or seriously injured and their property being destroyed or partially destroyed with above-ground transmission lines, we don’t understand how the Blaine County commissioners, elected to protect the safety and health of their constituents and the beauty of this valley and to follow the county comprehensive plan, which was written to be the guideline for development in this valley and specifically states that all new power lines in the scenic corridors along highways should be buried, can possible allow the current planned above-ground transmission line to run the length of the valley and create the possibility of seriously injuring or killing any of the residents of this valley in the future.
If this new transmission line is allowed to be built above ground so close to residential areas, the highway and the hospital, as now planned, it will only be a matter of time before someone is severely injured or killed and their property and lives destroyed by its failure.
The commissioners should do their job protecting the people of this valley and its beauty, and demand that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission order that the planned new transmission line, as well as the attached distribution lines, be buried before someone is seriously injured or worse and property values are destroyed.
John Milner and Kim Taylor are residents of Blaine County.