Nesting birds spark power pole fires

More than 1,000 customers lost power in Thursday night's outage. Crews worked through the night to restore service.

Two fires in Tryon caused by Osprey nests on utility poles

Nesting birds are responsible for two utility pole fires this month that have left Maritime Electric customers in the dark.

The most recent, in Tryon, P.E.I., Thursday night and into Friday, left more than 1,000 customers without power. It's the second fire in the community this month on utility poles where ospreys had built nests.

"There were branches on site at the pole so [repair crews] suspect this was the cause," said Kim Griffin, Manager of Corporate Communications with Maritime Electric.

It's not clear what caused a third utility pole fire two weeks ago in North River.

Ospreys have multiple nesting sites in Tryon this spring, according to resident Brian Campbell, who lives near the site of Thursday's pole file.

"They've been here for the last month or so ... I'd say about 14 pairs ... and they've been building nests," said Campbell.

The birds routinely nest on the same sites, year after year, according to Island Nature Trust.

Campbell has photographed nests at the top of utility poles in Tryon in years past. He says there was a nest last year and again this spring on the pole that burned Thursday.

He's pretty sure the birds will be back.

"They probably went somewhere else but they're persistent," said Campbell, an avid angler and professional oyster fisherman. "They'll build close to the river. They always do."

Maritime Electric is taking steps to protect the birds, and the public. With help from conservation groups, including Island Nature Trust and local watershed groups, they're building nesting platforms in areas where nests on poles have become a danger.

Nesting platforms in Tryon might be a good idea, according to Campbell.

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