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Downed power lines snarl Highway 144
A downed utility line lays across McRae Drive at Highway 144 Thursday afternoon. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Traffic on Highway 144 between Port Royal Road and the roundabout at Belfast River Road is being alternated in one lane each direction due to downed power lines.

Battalion Chief Matthew Schultz of Bryan County Emergency Services said the problem started around 3:15 p.m. when a dump truck hit low-hanging telephone and cable lines over Highway 144 near McRae Drive. That caused electrical lines to touch, sending sparks onto the roadway and both sides of the road.

“We had small fires start in the brush on both sides of the road,” Schultz said.

BCES crews from Station No. 1 located near the roundabout arrived on the scene quickly and extinguished the fires. Deputies from the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office are handling traffic control.

Crews from Coastal Electric, Hargray Communications and Comcast also responded.

“We’re letting traffic go in each direction a little bit at a time in one lane where the wires aren’t hanging so low,” Schultz said. “Our main concern is if the line gets hit again it could affect the integrity of the utility poles.”

Schultz said he was unsure how long Highway 144 would be impacted. Traffic heading toward the roundabout at 4:30 p.m. was backed up to Port Royal Road.

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