2 men electrocuted in Detroit utility substation

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Detroit — Two men who broke into a Detroit Public Lighting Department substation were electrocuted early Friday in an incident that police are investigating.

The unidentified and charred bodies were found touching together around 6:50 a.m. Fire officials, who were called to the scene in the 6600 block of Raymond near Harper Avenue, speculated that the men were there to steal something such as copper. Police officials also have come to that preliminary conclusion, a spokeswoman said.

Initial reports said the men were shocked by 35,000 to 38,000 volts of electricity but police and public lighting officials updated that to say the men touched a 24,000-volt conductor. Jonathan Smith, a senior electric system supervisor for the PLD, said electrical substation like the one the men entered “consists of incoming primary transmission feeders, usually 24kv, that originate from the Power Plant.”

“The only reason they would be in there is if they were stealing something,” said Dave Fornell, deputy fire commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department. “A substation is a maze of wires and open conductors and that type of thing.”

Initially around 4 a.m., the Public Lighting Department was called to the area for a power outage because they operate the station. Workers discovered the bodies. Fire officials were dispatched at 6:50 a.m.

Detroit police have taken over the investigation.

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