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Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 05:59 PM EDT

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Grass Fires Causing Problems For Fire Department

Safety & SecurityThe intense summer has increased the number of calls for firefighters in the Western part of the province of Panama, who have to respond to several reports of burning grasslands every day.

According to a report from the fire department, yesterday Thursday they responded to 19 grass fire calls between La Chorrera to Chame.

Firefighters have asked the community to use caution in such cases, and also avoid throwing burning cigarettes, cans and glass, because the heat can cause fire.

Meanwhile, residents of several communities say every year in the dry season they have to deal with these situations.

The concern of the residents is that the smoke can affect infants and those with respiratory diseases. (TVN)

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Hospital Reopening After Chemical Spill Cleanup

Safety & SecurityThe emergency room of the Susana Jones hospital has been reopened, now that the cleaning staff has determined there are no chemical spills in this area.

The medical staff is attending patients without any problem.

Later a new inspection will be made of the ​​radiology area.

The Radiology Department will remain closed because there is a higher concentration of the chemical which was spilled in this area.

It also recommended to the hospital authorities that they should conduct a cleaning in the area of ​​radiology, in order to try to resume services later in the afternoon today. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Yesterday the hospital was evacuated as a result of this chemical spill. I still have not seen any report indicating what (exactly) was spilled.

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Roof Collapses In Parking Area On Four Cars

Safety & SecurityBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The roof over a parking area gave way this afternoon, and came crashing down on the hoods of four cars that were parked underneath.

This occurred in Bethania, across the street from the Lung Fung restaurant.



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Fire Consumes Cardboard Boxes At Moving Company

Safety & SecurityA fire occurred yesterday afternoon in one of the open galleries of a warehouse where there was a large number of cardboard boxes, as well as wood, rags, and paper.

The fire occurred near Avenue Villalaz Ascanio in Curundú.

The company Canal Mover and Logistic Corporation, which is a residential moving service, had hundreds of these items located in their open metal warehouse which the flames consumed in minutes.

Orlando Villarreal, of the Fire Department of Panama, said in order to control the fire, and due to the distance from a working fire hydrant, they used two tanker trucks, a ladder truck, two ambulances, and 50 firemen from the Balboa and Ricardo Arango fire stations.

Villarreal added that when a fire occurs people should dial 103 to report the fire and they should not try to smother the flames themselves, because this is dangerous and they could be risking their lives.

When the fire broke out, two police officers were patrolling the area on a motorcycle, and they immediately notified the fire department.

In this event there were no injuries or affected.

Mario Ramirez of the Division of Fire Investigation, said the causes of the fire are unknown. He said they will be making the necessary investigations. (Siglo)

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Gas Station On Fire in Rio Abajo...

Safety & SecurityA taxi crashed into a gas station in Rio Abajo, specifically in the area known as "El Balboa", and caused one of the fuel dispensers to catch fire endangering the lives of workers and people who were close to the place.

Preliminary information indicates that after crashing, the taxi sped away.

Firemen responded to the scene to try to extinguish the fire. It was learned that the people who were on the premises nearby were evacuated for fear of an explosion. (Estrella)

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Grass Fires Increase Costs For Fire Department

Safety & SecurityThe Fire Department of Panama sees the increase in grass fires so far this year with great concern.

This situation according to Captain Angel Delgado of the Fire Department, is not only a danger to health and the environment, but also risks and costs of equipment and personnel ranging from $300 to $500 per hour for each incident.

In this sense, Delgado said that only in the month of January a total of 790 grass fires have been extinguished in the different regions and in Panama City, as well as three forest fires in the areas of La Yeguada in the province of Veraguas, one in Boquete, and another in Herrera in the area of Montuoso, while in the region of Macaracas there is still a situation that has to be investigated.

The district of La Chorrera tops the list of grass fires with 186 cases, followed with 151 in the province of Cocle, where, according to Delgado, the areas of Aguadulce and Penonomé are being affected.

Panama center reported 130 cases, while there were 119 in David and another 58 in Veraguas.

For this situation they have already issued a nationwide alert in all areas, within which the full time guard has been activated, as well as volunteers and administrators.

According to Delgado the investigations show these fires have been caused by waste matches, gasoline, and even alcohol, so evidence indicates the hand of man is behind them.

These fires bring consequences that affect protected areas and contribute to environmental pollution, and for an increase in asthma and other respiratory allergies.

Last year a total of 4,611 cases of grass fires were reported, as well as 14 forest fires, said the official. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: 'Tis the season. Every year during dry season the grass burns off...

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Car Consumed By Fire On San Miguelito Bridge

Safety & SecurityA car caught fire at 11:00 am on the rise to the bridge in San Miguelito headed towards Panama City.

It is presumed that first an explosion occurred, according to early reports that have been sent through the social networks.

The car is right in the middle of the road leading to the center of Panama City, so it has caused a large traffic jam.

The car, a red sedan, was consumed in its entirety.

At the moment the fate of the driver is unknown. (Mi Diario)

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Overheating Fan Motor Caused Pueblo Nuevo Fire

Safety & SecurityThe fire that occurred on Calle 16 in Pueblo Nuevo last week was caused by the overheating motor of an old electric fan that was left running, according to Irán Ponce, the head of the Department of Fire Investigation of the Fire Department of Panama.

The fire destroyed 12 rooms for rent, where 34 people lived.

Ponce said, regarding the case of Santa Ana, where flames consumed 10 big houses and affected 289 people, they are still investigating the causes of the fire.

So far in 2013 there have already been four big fires.

A senior citizen was killed in one of them. (Siglo)

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Firemen and Management Reach Agreement on Pay and Promotions

Safety & SecurityThe agreements reached between the members of the "permanent guard" of the fire department of Panama and the government will start to be implemented.

Their promotions will start to take effect immediately, said Pablo Tuñón, the Chief of the Fire Department.

Some of the firefighters will have to attend the Academy for training in order to be eligible to receive their promotions.

Tuñón also explained the breakdown of the salary increase of $100 (per month), which will take effect gradually.

The first payment will be $25 in the first half of March, another $25 will apply from the first half of October, completing the first $50. In January 2014, the increase will be completed.

The firefighters and the authorities had established a 30 day deadline to resolve these issues. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: To put this whole problem with the firemen in a nutshell - the government had already agreed to give them raises and promotions, based on length of service. However the government then failed to budget the money necessary to actually pay for those raises and promotions. The firemen started to protest and make noise, the dialog started, and now they have reached an agreement. Unfortunately, in Panama very often it seems like you can't get anything done until you're closing a street somewhere, and getting your face on the morning news to bitch about (whatever).

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Man Killed In Diablo Heights Fire

Safety & SecurityA man died early this morning when his house caught fire.

Firefighters rushed to the house in Diablo Heights, in the reverted areas, to start the work of extinguishing the fire, but much of the building had been consumed by flames.

Amid the operation Fire Department located the body of a dead man who had been burned in one of the rooms of the house.

Unofficial data indicates that neighbors heard an explosion as a result of flammable products that were in the residence.

The Security Office of the Fire Department of Panama will initiate investigations to determine the causes of this incident. (Critica)

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Public Ministry Investigating Pueblo Nuevo Fire

Safety & SecurityOfficials from the Public Ministry and the Office of Fire Safety will investigate the cause of the fire that occurred Thursday at Calle 15 in Pueblo Nuevo.

The fire consumed an old wooden building called "Salomón" by local residents, leaving 12 families and a total of 34 people homeless, according to the preliminary report. The fire came 24 hours after another fire consumed 10 buildings in the village of Santa Ana, leaving 289 homeless.

There has been speculation about the possible causes of the fire in Pueblo Nuevo, among which raises the possibility that it might have been caused by a short circuit. The owner of the room where the fire started was not there when the incident occurred.

The area has been cordoned off by the Police, but some residents fainted while trying to retrieve their belongings.

It was reported that those affected will be relocated to the Community Board of Pueblo Nuevo, in pensions and hotels located nearby.

The director of the National Assistance Program, Rafael Guardia, went to the scene and announced the creation of a socio-economic study of the victims.

Guardia said the PAN, the Mayor of Panama and the Ministry of Housing and Land Management is responsible for providing the necessary assistance to the victims with hot food, and then when they are relocated, to give them material assistance.

Guardia said the Ministry of Housing and Land Management will determine if the building will be rebuilt. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: It seems like there might have been some illegal electrical connections to that building. The local residents all seemed to know it was caused by a short circuit.

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Video Of Fire in Pueblo Nuevo This Morning

Safety & SecurityBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's the the video posted by Telemetro channel 13 of the fire that occurred this morning in the area of Pueblo Nuevo.

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There Is A Firearm in 15% of Panamanian Homes

Safety & SecurityThere is a firearm in 135,061 households in Panama, according to a recent survey.

The biweekly CID Gallup poll for 'The People Speak' addressed a review of the Panamanians on safety.

According to the Census of Population and Housing, 2010, in Panama there are 900,413 homes.

In the study, 15% stated that a member of their household owns a firearm. In the houses of people who have been victims of theft (23.2%) is where most confess that there are firearms.

Another finding of the study is that 8% of Panamanians (184,000 people) own a firearm. Men (11.4%), those with secondary education (9.3%), those over 40 years (8.9%) and metropolitan residents (8.7%) are the most say owning a gun.

Although 8% said they own some type of firearm, a higher percentage, 34% of Panamanians (782,000 people), confessed to having used one at some point in their lives.

Young adults (50.4%), those who have been a victim of theft (47%) and men (39.5%) are those that have had the experience of shooting a gun. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Wow, is this bad reporting. They conducted a survey with a relatively small sample (specific number not revealed) then they extrapolated the numbers against the whole to come up with the large country wide figures. I guess my problem is that they didn't adequately explain what they were doing, and how they arrived at the numbers. So, if they did a survey of 2,000 people and 15% said they own a firearm, fine. But to then extrapolate that out to say there are guns in 135,061 homes is probably a stretch. I just like it when people - and especially reporters - are precise when using numbers as facts and figures.

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Fire In Mañanitas This Morning

Safety & SecurityThere was a fire this morning in a commercial property located in front of the Plaza las Americas in Mañanitas.

This property was used to fabricate chairs and furniture for the Ministry of Education.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Firemen responded to the scene to extinguish the blaze, and are currently conducting the first investigations to determine the cause of the fire. (Dia a Dia)

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Construction Worker Falls 13 Floors To Death

Safety & SecurityA worker died yesterday when he fell from the 13th floor of a building under construction in Punta Pacifica.

Aristarco Salazar, 25 years old, only had four days working as an assistant on the Grand Tower project.

According to Frenadeso, he had four young children.

Manuelin Urrieta, the area manager for SUNTRACS, called upon his peers to make use of safely equipment to prevent further mishaps.

Salazar becomes the third construction worker who has died so far this year. (Mi Diario)

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Gas Leak Causes House Fire in Cerro Viento

Safety & SecurityA gas tank exploded Wednesday at a residence in Cerro Viento so Fire Department units arrived.

Black smoke was coming out of the house, which caused fear in many locals.

How did it happen? The owner of the house smelled the gas leak, and when she went to turn it off it exploded in her face, so she and her daughter ran out and the house caught fire.

The fire spread so fast that when her husband arrived he had no chance of saving anything, because the fire spread to the back of the house burning all the family belongings.

Firefighters arrived and the fire was so big they requested another truck to help them control and extinguish the fire. None was hurt, only the woman of the house had some smoke inhalation, but she will be alright. (Estrella)

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Gasoline Tanker Catches Fire After Colliding With Utility Pole in Penonomé

Safety & SecurityAbout 10:50 am, firefighters from the sectors of Penonomé, Aguadulce and Natá are trying to douse the flames of an articulated truck loaded with gasoline, that caught fire after hitting a utility pole in the area of ​​Rio Grande, in Penonomé.

The truck driver was seriously injured and burned.

Locals who heard the noise caused by the accident, approached the vehicle, providing help.

The incident took place on the main road leading to the community of La Candelaria. (Telemetro)



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The Differences Between Police Control and Checkpoints Explained

Safety & SecurityThe Deputy Commissioner of the National Police, Julio Lasso, explained on the Telemetro morning news the differences between a police checkpoint and a control point, measures applied by the police in the streets for vigilance, but many criminals take advantage of these situations and use tools similar to those who work for public safety, to create false checkpoints in order to steal.

Lasso said a checkpoint will be comprised of eight or more police officers, a vehicle, and these are usually established in visible places, or on major thoroughfares.

These are installed especially when there is a bank robbery for example, an escape from prison, or when there is a report of drug or arms trafficking.

Meanwhile a control point might be located at the entrance of a neighborhood or a shopping center, and is comprised of two to four officers, who will be wearing their bullet proof vests, and they will be using traffic cones, the same as in checkpoints.

Lasso said the driver may cordially request the name or identification of the police officers who are working there.

He explained that the officers of the National Police have several uniforms they might be using, depending on specialty. Some are green and others are blue, but each police officer will have their name either embroidered or on an identification plate.

Editor's Comment: Over the weekend two men dressed as police officers tried to kidnap a journalist in the area of El Carmen in Panama City. In response there has been a public relations effort to educate people on how to tell the difference between real and fake police officers. In the case of the attempted kidnapping, the potential victim recognized that they were fake and managed to escape.

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Officials Inspecting Panama Metro Subway Accident Work Site

Safety & SecurityStaff from the Public Ministry went this Monday, 14 January 2013, to the work site of the new Panama Metro subway system, specifically to the area where the Santo Tomas subway station is being built, where last Friday, 11 January, there was an accident which claimed the life of one worker and which left six others injured.

They were assisted by staff from the Social Security Fund to conduct the inspection, and to therefore ensure that the workers can continue to work safely.

Meanwhile, the workers have said they will not go back to work until they can be assured that their lives are not in danger. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: On Friday a high pressure air hose exploded, killing one and injuring six.

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Two Injured In Underground Metro (Subway) Construction Accident

Safety & SecurityTwo people were injured in a construction accident this afternoon.

The men who were working on Line 1 of the new Panama Metro (subway) system were injured when an air line exploded between Calle 29 and Avenida Justo Arosemena.

A source in the fire department confirmed that the injured people have already been attended to. (Critica)

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Two Christmas Eve Fatalities in Panama

Safety & SecurityAt least two people died in Panama on Christmas Eve said sources in the National Police and fire department.

According to reports, a man was shot dead in the district of San Miguelito, near the northern outskirts of the capital, in a discussion between a group of people who were drinking liquor.

In another development, the lawyer Isaac Ladron de Guevara died asphyxiated by the smoke in a fire in his residence located in the town of La Chorrera, in western Panama province, said sources in the fire department.

The victim's wife, Dominga Perez, was admitted to a hospital because she suffered from suffocation by smoke inhalation during the fire, which apparently was caused by a candle that came into contact with flammable material in the residence.

So far police authorities have reported no traffic fatalities from accidents, and they only reported that drivers have been fined for driving while intoxicated, or for leaving their cars parked illegally which were towed away. (Critica)

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Car Consumed By Flames

Safety & SecurityA sedan caught fire this afternoon on the road from La Villa - Las Tablas in the province of Los Santos, with no injuries. Firemen responded to the call but the flames quickly consumed the entire burning vehicle. It was reported that two people managed to get out of the car, miraculously saving their lives. For now, no one knows why the fire started, however firemen are investigating. Also, police officers responded to the scene to control vehicular traffic. (TVN)

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Apartment Fire in Curundú

Safety & SecurityThere was an apartment fire on the 10th floor of the green apartment building in Curundú. Two fire trucks responded to extinguish the blaze. (Telemetro)

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A Man's Body Was Found On Rodman

Safety & SecurityThe body of a man was found on the banks of the Panama Canal, on Monday.

The body was identified as Tomás Alfred Fairley, 48, who allegedly was the driver of the Kia car that crashed on Friday, in which four people were killed, at Control 2 between Panama and Arraiján.

The body was found floating on the beaches near the former Rodman US military base yesterday, at noon.

Workers at a nearby business saw the buzzards circling in the area and alerted authorities who immediately moved to the site, where they found the body.

Police said it could be the person who was traveling inside of the car that crashed because the only survivor of the accident said there were six people in the car.

An aide to the Auxiliary Prosecutor explained that on the day of the accident, the current in the stream was so strong it could have dragged the body of the man several miles, and it could be the man who was involved in the car accident, which occurred ten meters from the Pan American highway, near Loma Cová.

SINAPROC officials and firefighters from Arraiján had to tie themselves in with cables to keep from being dragged away by the force of the current toward the mangroves.

The body found yesterday could have come to this site through the streams of the place.

In that accident died Nayely Sanchez, age 7, her mother Noris Marlenis de Sanchez, Kathiuska Franklyn and an adult male, who had no identification when he was pulled from the water.

At that time it was reported that the driver of the car was gone, and according to early indications, it could be the person found by the Auxiliary Prosecutor in Rodman. (Critica)

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SINAPROC Director Denies Conducting Investigation On Road Collapse

Safety & SecurityThe Director of the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC) Arturo Alvarado denied that this institution has done any kind of investigation into the fault that occurred on the Transístmica Highway. He also said he has not spoken about the issue, as mentioned by the National Assembly Deputy Yassir Purcait. Alvarado said at no time have they conducted an investigation, especially since a search operation was being conducted in the area. He also said in any case conducting an investigation would fall to the Ministry of Public Works. (Telemetro)
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Firemen Respond To Warehouse Fire in Juan Diaz

Safety & SecurityA fire broke out early this morning at a local drug distribution warehouse located in the area of ​​San Cristobal, Juan Diaz. Firefighters responded to the fire after security guards at the establishment gave the alarm. Six fire trucks and three ambulances were present but no one was hurt. (Dia a Dia)

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Man's Body Washed Up On The Beach In Maria Chiquita, Colon

Safety & Security The body of a man was found washed up on the beach of Maria Chiquita, along the Costa Arriba of the Colon province. It is presumed that the victim drowned, and the strong waves dragged him to that point. Forensic authorities of Police Investigation Department (DIJ) have started investigating this case, because there are no reports of missing persons. (Critica)
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Copa 737 Enroute to Panama Returns To Bogota With Smoke In The Cockpit

Safety & SecurityA Copa Airlines plane covering the route between Bogota and Panama with 86 passengers on board returned to the Colombian capital yesterday, apparently because of smoke in the cockpit, but without consequences, reported a Colombian aviation authority.

None of the passengers were injured in the incident, which occurred in mid-flight, and that the situation "was surpassed through the timely implementation of protocols," said Colombia's Civil Aviation said in a statement.

The crew of the aircraft, a Boeing 737 with tail number HP 1371, "reported the presence of smoke in the cabin" shortly after taking off from the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, said a member of the press office of the agency. The Civil Aeronautics opened an investigation into the causes of the emergency. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Common occurrence. Things break, and on airplanes electronics and control boxes in the cabin can easily fail, "fry" or otherwise go up in smoke during flight. This sort of thing used to happen all the time on the C-130's I used to fly on in the Air Force. You isolate, pop circuit breakers, get below 10,000 feet, vent, declare an "In Flight Emergency" (IFE), and land. Hopefully the small little sparking wire doesn't find a fuel line or something, and it's all good. Wake me up when a wing falls off...

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Firefighters to train others in Panama

Safety & SecurityThe Sooke Firefighter’s Association is currently fundraising to send local firefighters to Boquete, Panama to provide training in March 2013. According to Ben Temple, Sooke volunteer firefighter, the association hopes to send four or six firefighters from the region to train firefighters in Boquete, Panama. “I think it’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be a great opportunity not only for us to do some training, but for us to see how departments in other countries function and operate, and the challenges that they are faced with,” he said.

Although still to be determined, Temple said training will focus on team management and victim extraction for motor vehicle incidents, and wildland interface fires -- fires that encroach on the town site and surrounding coffee plantations. “The ability to teach them how to deal with wildland interface fires will be key,” he said. It will cost $1,500 to $2,000 to send one firefighter to Boquete, and the association has raised about $2,400.

The firefighters currently have the following fundraising initiatives on-the-go:

From Nov. 7-27, Western Foods will be donating a portion of sales from specific items to the firefighters’ Boquete fund. A similar fundraising initiative with Village Food Markets is being planned for the New Year.

The launch of a crowd funding website, Indiegogo, to solicit online donations. Check out the website here: www.indiegogo.com/fraternidad-de-bomberos.

Each donor will be recognized for their contribution.

“We’re offering things like signed photographs of the group that goes down and the group that is in Boquete, and t-shirts. And recognition of our contributors on the t-shirts that we wear down there,” Temple said.

There is also the possibility of a social event with food, drink and entertainment at the firefighter’s lounge.

Throughout the summer, firefighters held car washes and hosted movie nights to fundraise, and Temple said community reaction for the project was positive.

“When people learned about what we’re doing, they were super impressed, and real enthusiastic about it and happy to help.”

The international training project will be a first for the Sooke Firefighter’s Association, and it is one they hope to continue into the future.

“We hope it’s going to be an ongoing thing. Every couple of years we’ll send a group from the Sooke Firefighter’s Association down to the same department to continue the training and in between trips we’ll maintain contact,” Temple said.

“Almost sort of like an unofficial sister department, if you will.”

Check out the project on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/FraternidaddeBomberos

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Exploding Power Lines In The Rain - Near Miss For Lineman

Safety & SecurityBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Late yesterday afternoon just before dark I was driving home from work. It was raining, and as I reached the end of D Street in El Cangrejo, I noticed some trucks from the power company, and a lineman working up on the top of a ladder that was leaning against a cement utility pole. He had some sort of an apparatus in his hand to extend his reach. I didn't know what he was working on, but when I saw that guy up there working in those conditions, I said a quick little prayer for his safety.

I thought about the million (plus) people who are still without power in the Northeast of the United States after "Super Storm Sandy" last week. I wondered how much money a lineman makes in Panama, to take those risks. Not only was it raining, the guy was working in what looked like a bowl of spaghetti - the lines hanging in Panama are notoriously third-world style. And just as all of those thoughts were going though my head, this happened...

Holy F*ck! The line shorted out for just a half second, right where the guy was touching something with the extended reach pole. There was a short, then a bright flash of light, an explosion, and a shower of sparks. The lineman just stayed there on the top of the ladder, rubbing his eyes. He was probably blinded by the flash, or he had debris in his eyes from the explosion, or he got a shock. I thought he might be seriously injured so I parked my car and went back to check. He was alright and did not get shocked. He was momentarily blinded by the flash, and that's why he stayed there on the ladder for a moment, just rubbing his eyes. He was shaken, but not stirred...

Once Again, The Dash Cam Came Through: This is another reason why I like to have a dash cam running in the car all the time, not only to catch any accidents I might be involved in, but also to capture video of stuff like this that might happen right in front of your face.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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