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Fire chief: Man learned firsthand the dangers of stealing copper wire

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A PSE substation in Renton was broken into Wednesday morning.  KCPQ-TV

RENTON — A man who climbed over a high fence and used bolt cutters in an attempt to steal copper wire is in the hospital this morning after suffering a severe electric shock from a transformer, Eastside Fire and Rescue officials told Q13FOX News.

Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, a small fire was reported at a Puget Sound Energy substation near the intersection of SE 128th Way and 198th Avenue near Renton.

Fire officials put out the small fire and found a severely burned man inside the substation who was not a PSE employee. Officials called King County sheriff’s deputies to the scene and the man was taken to Harborview Medical Center with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over more than 60 percent of his body.

His condition was not known at 7 a.m.

Eastside Fire and Rescue battalion chief Dave McDaniel believes the man climbed over a substation security fence and tried to cut wire off a large transformer with bolt cutters. The man was shocked by the transformer and injured.

The loss of transformer power caused about 2,800 in the Renton area to lose power. The power was expected to be turned back on at 7:30 a.m.





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  • Ivan W.

    Good paying jobs prevent folks from having to resort to doing foolish things like this …. The price of copper is extremely high and the draw of easy money is there….. We need to keep well paying jobs in the area …. Hope the thief has learned a lesson , but I still pray for him this morning. Get well kid

    • Joe Camel


      though I do agree our economy lacks enough good paying jobs to go around, the statistics show a very high majority of metal thieves (no pun intended on high) do so for drug money. Very few folks out of a job that had one before are going to risk their life and lively hood (having a clean record) in this manner for money. The probability is this man has a drug habit to support.

      • froggygirl

        I agree with Joe. Very likely it's a drug issue. From what I understand people who are addicted to meth are the most scary people on the planet. They are so addicted that not only will they risk their lives, but sometimes lives of others to get their next fix. We need to address drug issues and get people off from meth. But the fact he got electrocuted is a good lesson to others who are doing stuff like this. There are real consequences. He has extensive burns, so he could still die. I hope if he does live, he will take this opportunity to better his life and if he is on drugs get into rehab and become a good functioning citizen.

  • Joe Camel

    If a meth head can gain access so easily access a power sub station to steal wire I'd hate to see what terrorist could do in taking out our power grid.

    I take it this wasn't the kind of fried he was after, so sad addiction can harm and kill you in more ways then the drug itself.

  • Ted

    What a bag o’ hammers you guys are…. We don’t know anything yet. Could be suicide? Could be he was,….well anyway, just speculation with no information, which I guess is what we do here,…sorry,….carry on. GO HAWKS.!.!.!

  • froggygirl

    They should electrify the fences so the doofs who try to steal the wiring get zapped before they are even able to climb the fence and cut wires.

  • burtward

    Sad deal is we will have to pick up his medical bills on top of all the costs of prosecution and incarceration. All we can do is know he's in incredible pain and while he's getting valium, ludes, and morphine for it now, when they finally release him he won't get it as a jail inmate. That counts a lot knowing he's going to be in unbelievable pain and get no narcotics.

  • Robert

    He climbed over the fence. And then he used the bolt cutters? He should have stuck to taking the ground wires. BTW. CNN reports this man as having been electrocuted, not shocked.

  • obbop

    Our huge herd of meth freaks here in hillbilly land of backwards ignorance-loving Missouri are smart. They usually target the metal found in air conditioners with churches a favorite target though any office or retail firm can be targeted.

    It may be relatively cheap living here in southern Missouri but there is a huge psychological cost to be paid for being immersed within the massive amounts of idiocy imaginable.

  • jess

    You are all horrible for saying such things. He is still someones Son,Brother, Uncle,Nephew,Grandson & Friend. Everyone in their life has someone who goes through tough times.

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