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City line crew rescues cat

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Mike Phillips calls it part of a day’s work.

But, actually, it was a rescue mission.

Phillips, a lineman for the City of Fremont, was part of a crew that rescued a cat from the top of a power pole on Monday morning — and kept the high-climbing feline from getting electrocuted.

Looking back, Phillips recalls that eventful day, which began with a widespread power outage. The outage occurred when a high-voltage transformer failed at Fremont’s Substation C on North Somers Avenue.

The outage affected more than 1,000 electric customers, including residents in the Washington Heights subdivision. The city’s line and meter crews restored power in 28 minutes. Permanent repairs were made within a couple of hours to prevent further disruptions.

In the meantime, the city got a call about a cat that had climbed a tall pole on D Street north of Military Avenue.

And the frightened feline wasn’t coming down that pole.

So when they were done at Somers Avenue, Phillips and his boss Dan Klingsick, and co-worker Jacob Virgl headed to D Street.

Sitting on a cross-arm amid wires with 13,800 volts of electricity, the cat was in danger of being electrocuted.

With Virgl as the driver, Phillips climbed into the bucket of a line truck and was lifted 55 feet into the air at the site. A plastic cover was placed over the lines for the cat and Phillips’ protection.

“The plastic cover kind of made her a little nervous so she started going away from us,” Phillips said.

He called to the cat and reached out to her.

“She was ready to come down so it didn’t take a whole lot,” Phillips said.

The cat came over to Phillips who reached over with both hands to cradle the animal and brought her into the bucket with him. Virgl lowered the bucket.

“She was pretty calm. I’ve heard of them not always being very calm,” Phillips said.

Klingsick climbed on the truck.

“We handed the cat to him and he gave it to the owner,” Phillips said.

The owner cradled and petted the cat and hollered “Thanks!”

“You could tell he was happy,” Phillips said.

This was Phillips’ first cat rescue, but the lineman said several others have made such rescues.

“Any one of us could have done it,” Phillips said. “I just decided I’d do it.”

Phillips said this is part of the job.

“That’s something we do,” Phillips said. “That’s our job to keep everything as safe as possible for the public and the pets.”

Phillips doesn’t know the name of the cat, but is pleased it could be successfully retrieved.

“Things worked out,” Phillips said. “It’s nice to see it go that way. I was really happy about that. It could have turned out worse.”

Phillips urges people to call if they notice balloons wrapped in the wires or animals.

“Don’t hesitate to call, because it could save an outage or the animal,” he said. “We’ll go there and remove it. We’re on 24 hours … 365 days a year.”

Local residents should call 402-727-2600.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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