Thursday morning, a tractor driving south on South Main Street in Graford hooked overhead lines with equipment that was upright on both sides of the tractor. As a result electricity as well as phone service was lost to the entire community of Graford.
“I came around the corner and saw power poles shaking,” said Mike Thomasson, Graford Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief.
He added that he did not see the tractor at first and thought it might be a ground tremor. He added that when he saw the tractor, about a lock and a half away, he tried to tell the driver to stay put.
“There were sparks flying everywhere,” he said.
But the driver, shaken but unhurt, had stepped off the tractor. The Graford VFD is in the same block as the downed power lines. Thomasson said poles were knocked over, lines were down and one line had been pulled by the tractor, slicing through the corner room of a mobile home.
“No one was injured,” Thomasson added.
Oncor crews arrived and began separating the damaged lines from the grid, allowing power to be restored to the rest of the town.
“We have power to about three-fourths of the city,” he said about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. “The affected area is still about three blocks.”
Thomasson said the estimate was that power would be restored by dark. As for the phone lines, that would take longer.
“The phone service will be down until tomorrow (Friday) evening,” he explained.
Reports at the scene were that the tractor belonged to Cal Francis, owner of Francis Farms. The driver, it was reported, works for him.
The incident in Graford, a town roughly 25 miles from Graham, was similar to a scenario that occurred in Young County at the end of 2013 and highlighted the need for dispatch systems to carry and practice strong contingency plans.
Teresa McGehee is the dispatch supervisor for Young County. She's been the at the top of the command chain since last October, but was also lead dispatcher for many years prior. According to McGehee, not only is it a possibility that the local dispatch center could lose its 911 access, but it did happen in Young County eight months ago, when a large fiber optic cable was accidentally cut, blacking out area land line 911 service as well as civilian land line service.
She said it's precisely for that, and many other reasons, that Young County has a fortified backup plan strictly for scenarios such as what happened Thursday in Graford and several months ago here.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.