Here’s one we’ve all heard before (not): A snake-eating hawk started a 40-Acre Montana grassfire that took firefighters over an hour to contain. 

With the dryness of the summer making things difficult enough for firefighters in the Treasure State, an accidental spark can be devastating. Enter one enterprising and hungry hawk that just wanted a yummy snake for lunch.

Now, add the strange turn of events that started it all. According to the Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department and firefighter Kyra Vanisko, the wildfire that burned for over an hour near Great Falls was started by an electrocuted hawk and its prey.

Vanisko said on her Facebook page:

“Sparks from the shock were sent to the ground, which is what caused the fire. Thankfully everyone (except for the hawk and snake) is okay.”

But since birds don’t get electrocuted by landing on power lines, how did it happen? A spokesman for the Indiana Electric Cooperatives explained the shocking reason:

“Birds don’t get electrocuted when they are touching wires because they don’t represent a path to ground, giving the electricity nowhere to go but back to the wire. If the bird happens to touch two wires at once, or a wire and a ground, they will get electrocuted.

It’s more likely that the snake, in its attempt to wriggle free, made the second contact and completed the circuit that killed both of them.

Facebook/Kyra Vanisko

The pair of fried animals were found at the scene, suggesting that they were the reason for the fire. Since both creatures were found together with signs of electrocution, and the snake still in the clutches of the hawk, firefighters felt that the cause was pretty apparent.

It’s not the first time that larger birds of prey have been shocked by power lines. Even varmints like squirrels can be electrocuted and start fires.

All in all the entire event has provided at least one thing: the continued need for vigilance and safety in the face of electricity, especially where fires are concerned.


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