Fargo, ND (Valley News Live) You’ve seen the small colorful flags marking the ground around construction sites and those small markers serve a big purpose in keeping you and construction crews safe. The flags tell anyone digging into the area to avoid the utility lines that are below ground, but to have those flags installed, just remember todays date – 8/11. “You call 8-1-1 and locators will go out and mark the lines,” explains Trudy Wanner of the Cass County Electrical Cooperation. She says North Dakota One Call, the program behind 8-1-1, is a free service that saves home owners and local utilities from unnecessary repairs. “If it causes an outage we need to send a line crew out to find where it was damaged, repair the line, get people back on,” Wanner says.
Striking a power line dangerous, and can be deadly, but hitting a gas line can be a health and safety risk as well. In fact, the Fargo Fire Department has already responded to five calls of hit gas lines this month, and when they go out, Assistant Chief Tim Binfet says “we send four engines, a truck, and a battalion chief.” He explains that gas lines in buildings can be turned off at the gas meters most times, or if the line is outside, sometimes it can be pinched off, but the company that runs the gas line has to come out to fix it.
But not only will damage be done to the line, serious damage will be done to your budget. Assistant Chief Benfit explained that it’s the law to call 8-1-1 before you dig but “If you don’t call before you dig and something happens you are responsible for it, whatever it costs to repair that is on you.” Repairs on gas or electric lines will run you $3,000 to $7,000, so he says you’re better off using the free 8-1-1 service and waiting the required 48 hours to dig.
If you do hit a utility line, Assistant Chief Binfet says “immediately leave the area, call 9-1-1, and keep everyone away.”