Fort Worth Residents Blame ONCOR for Power Problems

Some downtown Fort Worth residents say ONCOR should be doing more to stop power outages during rainstorms.

During last week's storms, the power was out for almost two days along parts of Belknap and Weatherford streets. Several residents blame overgrown vines and shrubs on an ONCOR power pole for the problem.

Property owners said the transformer has blown multiple times during rain over the past few months, and they're afraid it'll happen again this weekend with more rain in the forecast.

Several business owners and apartment tenants lose power and multiple traffic signals go out. They say it's a major safety risk.

"It becomes very dangerous, especially with traffic zooming by so fast," said property owner Ed Cabello.

Cabello blames the overgrowth of vines on an ONCOR power pole. He says the outage began Friday morning and he called ONCOR three times.

"It is a nuisance because obviously that growth shouldn't be there," he said. "It affects our power, and it is affecting communications. We have customers, we have attorneys, we have a DNA clinic here, and everything shuts down when the power goes out."

Attorney Robert Gieb said the transformer has blown twice in the last three months during rain.

"When the transformer goes out, I don't have power," said Gieb. "Nobody in the block has the power. The traffic signals go out, there's traffic hazards here."

Like Cabello, he says he called ONCOR several times, but didn't get anywhere.

Fort Worth Fire Station One is located where the outages have happened, although the station is on a different grid and wasn't affected by the power outage.

Firefighters contacted ONCOR, though, on Saturday because multiple traffic lights near their station still hadn't been fixed.

"The crew contacted ONCOR Saturday and pretty quickly they came out and resolved the problem once we reached them," said Lt. Kyle Falkner, with the Fort Worth Fire Department.

Falkner says if the power goes out again this week, drivers need to be cautious when approaching traffic signals, even if they are out entirely.

"It's so important for everyone's safety that people understand the rules of the road and treat it like a stop sign," he said.

With more rain in the forecast, Gieb worries the power will go out again unless the growth is cut down.

"Sure it's a risk to the firefighters, it's a risk to anybody driving out here," he said. "It's unsafe and it seems to be an easy fix, to cut down all of those vines."

NBC 5 spoke to ONCOR about the issue. The company agrees the ivy is an issue and planned to send a crew out to cut the overgrown vegetation back on Tuesday afternoon. An ONCOR representative tells NBC 5 the power has gone out in that block eight times this year but most of those outages were caused by an issue with a secondary feeder and not the transformer on the pole.

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