BANGOR, Maine — While many Lawrence High School football fans were electrified by their Bulldogs’ 32-25 victory over rival Bangor two weeks ago, one fan was particularly charged up at the game.
“That night [Saturday, Sept. 10] after the game, a fan came up to Joe Nelson, who oversees field maintenance for Bangor Parks and Recreation, and indicated he thought he’d received shocks from the fence and pointed out where he was standing,” said Alan Kochis, director of business services for the Bangor School Department. “He said he wasn’t burned or hurt or anything, but wanted to let someone know.”
Kochis, city electrician Reggie Burke, Bangor school electrician Wes Norlin, Nelson and other staff met at Cameron Stadium the next Monday to investigate the report.
“It was the fence running from the transformer located outside the centerfield baseball fence that’s in between both fields,” Kochis said. “Wires come out from the transformer and are connected to various poles to supply power to both the baseball and football facilities.”
What they found, according to Kochis, was that underground wires and fencing had shifted over time because of frost and erosion and some of the wires had become mingled with the fencing.
“It was from that transformer to the first pole about 30 feet up. In that space, you had electricity going through which you could feel on the fence,” Kochis said. “I was watching that game on the visitors’ side with my brother, who came up from Fairfield, and I was about 15 feet from that pole.
“I’m sure a number of people were leaning against that fence, but we only heard from that one person.”
A crew from Bangor Public Works came to Cameron the next Wednesday and fixed the problem by removing all the old wiring, replacing it with new and burying it much farther away from the fence.
“They also did a thorough check of the whole facility and there were no similar problems anywhere else,” said Kochis. “They said most of the current was dissipating into the ground, but it was potentially a dangerous situation. We’re very pleased that fan came forward and mentioned it.”
The incident occurred a week after another electrical problem caused the power to go out at Cameron Stadium with almost 10 minutes left in a high school football game between John Bapst of Bangor and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln on Friday, Sept. 2.
“A breaker did blow at the transformer power station nearby, causing the outage,” said Kochis, who was working the game as an umpire. “Not knowing the cause, we checked breakers in the stadium itself and they were all secure. We turned main power on and off and it didn’t help. Since we needed time to assemble a Bangor Hydro crew, we had to postpone.”
“We had the city electrician come and they found it was a certain breaker not in that building but on site at the football facility and they fixed it that next Monday or Tuesday,” Kochis said.
The game was resumed with 9 minutes, 51 seconds left and finished the next day, with John Bapst winning 38-6.