1. I’m pretty sure most high-tension power lines are not insulated, as they are placed very high up on towers. This branch must have been very wet, wood alone is not a conductor and could not bridge between these lines.

    1. Actually, wood is a poor conductor. At those voltages (likely between 69kV and 138kV) wood will conduct electricity, just not very well. That’s why you don’t see wooden linemen’s tools nowadays: They’re all epoxy resin fiberglass.

      At the beginning of the 20th century they did use wooden hotsticks, but the wood was baked to remove all traces of moisture. I’m guessing that branch wasn’t kiln-dried…

    1. Yes, pretty much that. There are power lines in my backyard connected to a telephone pole. One morning, I was sitting at the table when out of the corner of my eye I saw a fireball and heard a WHOOSH! I looked over in time to see a very dead, crispy squirrel tumble to the ground.

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