Nelson man Mykele Johansen who filmed power lines clashing on his smart phone shortly after yesterday’s earthquake. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Power lines ‘like fireworks’


An incredible video posted to social media in the hours after Monday morning’s “severe” earthquake showed power lines at Tahunanui clashing, causing massive sparks and noises – but the man who took the footage initially thought it was just fireworks.

Mykele Johansen was driving a truck for Bidvest on the night shift when he saw the sparking.

At first he thought it was two people playing with fireworks.

A screen shot of Mykele’s video.
A screen shot of Mykele’s video.

As he got closer he was shocked to see power lines banging together, causing huge sparks.

“To be honest, I didn’t know there had been an earthquake because it was in the truck and it’s a bit rocky anyway. I thought I just must have been a power outage.”

Network Tasman’s network manager Murray Hendrickson says he’s never seen anything like it in 30 years in the industry.

“That footage was really interesting actually, it was the first time I’ve seen that. It’s quite rare.”

He says Network Tasman had “lots” of circuit breakers trip due to the line clashes.

“In my entire time here we haven’t really had these kind of numbers before. What you saw there was low voltage conductors being swayed around with the earthquake and clashing together. When they clash it causing that big blast.”

He says the low voltage clashes don’t cause power outages but the high-voltage conductors that run above them do.

Murray says while the footage was quite spectacular, it’s also dangerous.

“There is hot aluminium coming down when they do clash, so it’s not a good thing to be around. It’s really unusual and it takes earthquakes like this to create it, so it’s something that you wouldn’t want to linger around.”

He says the incident will make them “go away and think” about how they can mitigate it.

Mykele says that although he wasn’t too sure what caused the clashes, he knew it wasn’t a safe place to be.

“That’s why the video is only 15 seconds because I just quickly got some and then I got out of there.”

The video can be viewed at