Weather Forecast


Keep fires away from utility poles and excavating equipment away from buried lines

Fergus Falls, MN - Each fall, uncontrolled ditch and field burns damage or destroy electric utility poles.

"You pay for the repairs if you're responsible for the fire," says Eric Hamm, safety services manager for Otter Tail Power Company. "Cost of repairs easily can be thousands of dollars, and that doesn't make up for the power outage or safety hazard that a burned pole creates."

Hamm reminds property owners that most areas require burning permits. "Check with your local fire district or county officials to learn about the requirements in your area," he says.

Electrical outages, adds Hamm, also can occur when smoke reduces the insulating value of air and insulators, which can cause a temporary fault in the line. "Please take every precaution when you burn ditches and fields. Make sure you have enough people to monitor the fire. Build fire walls by starting small controlled fires around poles, pedestals, and other electrical facilities. Trench wherever necessary. And take time to work safely."

Stay safe. Call before you dig.

As the construction season and yard work head into the home stretch this fall, Otter Tail Power Company reminds its customers and neighbors that, before starting any project that involves disturbing the ground, they need to notify utilities that have lines or cables buried in the area. Just one phone call will notify all of these utility companies so they can mark the property before any excavation begins. Knowing what's below will keep those who dig safe. It also will prevent unintentional damage to underground utility lines and needless outages to the utilities whose convenience you enjoy, including electricity, water and sewer, cable TV, telephone, and high-speed Internet.

Each state has different rules and regulations governing digging, but all projects--whether you're a homeowner or a contractor--require a call to the Call Before You Dig number. The national 811 number was created so the public would have only one number to call instead of separate One Call numbers in each state. Call 811 at least 48 hours before digging footings for that new garage, burying that water line, or installing that flag pole or mailbox. Or contact your state's One Call center:

Minnesota - 800-252-1166 or

North Dakota - 800-795-0555 or

South Dakota - 800-781-7474 or

"If you don't call to have underground utilities located and you strike an underground electrical line, the party doing the digging pays repair costs. These costs can vary significantly but, again, easily can be thousands of dollars. In addition, dig-in enforcement authorities in each state may impose fines," says Eric Hamm, Otter Tail Power Company's safety services manager. "Above all, stay safe. Digging into an energized wire is extremely dangerous and has lead to injuries and even death. So, call before you install that fence, dig that trench, create that water pond, or build that new deck or patio. It's fast, it's easy, and it's the law."

Otter Tail Power Company, a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: OTTR), is headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides electricity and energy services to more than a quarter million people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit