Two people were discharged from the hospital late Friday after 24 power poles came crashing down Friday on East Marginal Way, with at least one plunging into their car and trapping them in a tangle of wood and live wires for more than an hour.
Crews had to deactivate the lines as they worked their way in to rescue the two people, who were pulled out around 5:15 p.m. Somehow, despite the dangerous spectacle, neither suffered life-threatening injuries. They were quickly said to be in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center and later released, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
For reasons that were not clear Friday, the poles fell shortly before 4 p.m. at East Marginal Way South and South 94th Place in front of the Museum of Flight, according to a tweet from Tukwila police. Seattle City Light spokesman Tony White said the two dozen poles came down in “an apparent domino effect.”
Seattle City Light wasn’t sure what brought the poles down and was working Friday to get surveillance footage from nearby to offer clues, White said. He said one witness described seeing lightning strike a pole before it fell, but meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Seattle said there were no lightning strikes in Western Washington on Friday.
White said it’s possible the witness saw a spark and believed it was lightning.
There was a decent burst of wind accompanied by moderate rain earlier in the day, but nothing particularly alarming, said Carly Kovacik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph were recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but the wind had died down well before 4 p.m., Kovacik said.
“At the time the poles were falling, the winds weren’t particularly strong,” Kovacik said.
After the rescue, the City Light crews’ priority is resetting the power poles and restoring electricity, White said. Then they will investigate the cause, he said.
Around 16,500 customers in South Seattle, Tukwila, Burien and White Center lost power as a result of the incident, but power was restored to all but 300 of them by 6 p.m., according to Seattle City Light. Some Boeing offices in the area lost power, White said.
David Drum, a structural engineer who works at Boeing, said he left his office around 4:15 p.m. and saw at least 10 poles on the ground on the west side of the street.
“It was really dramatic. Really dystopian. The poles were snapped. They hit the ground with enough force and splintered,” he said. “It must have taken a lot of force to do what I saw.”
Michelle Baruchman and Sara Jean Green of The Seattle Times contributed to this report.