Electrical Wire Fire from Glenn Switzer

Screenshot of the wirefireHoly cow! Glenn Switzer posted a YouTube video of the electrical fire that took out the power for the south side this morning. It's really something to see.

Quote from the video:

Newly installed high voltage electrical transmission line catches fire and explodes just outside of sub-station.

I believe that the arc that we see is called "Jacob's Ladder", but I'm not entirely positive. If you know the correct term (if there is one other than 'arc'), drop us a comment.

Click here to view the video...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Repeat: Yikes!

- Brendon Etter
A Play A Day

Jacob’s Ladder


I don't think that I’d call this an example of a "Jacob’s Ladder." Here's a video of that:


It's where an electrical potential exists between two vertical rods that gradually spread apart going up. The heat of the arc causes it to rise to the point where the potential is not great enough to jump the gap and the arc re-jumps at the bottom (where the gap is the shortest) and the process repeats. Some info:


I think the video is an example of a phase to ground arc that grows until the other phases are engaged as a full three-phase arc-over tripping the circuit.

Climbing arc

Yes, it has been called a Jacob's ladder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_gap describes a simple way to put your life at risk by building this little spark toy from common household items. The arc in Glenn's photo lengths as the resistance drops in the arc, so the arc grows longer to dissipate the voltage and current. It finally reaches it's limit and snaps, then a new one starts. The final flash looks to be a path to ground that fries the transformer.


Thanks for the input guys. I know jack squat about electricity.