The smoking guns:

Hurricane Wilma may have been the proximate cause for the Massive FPL Power Outage, but

These neglected, rotted power poles were photographed immediately after Hurricane Wilma.

These spans (wires going from pole to pole) were brought down by rotted wood poles. 

This is the pole from the first picture on this page.

This is the rotted base of the pole.  Notice the sharp, jagged edges on the good center portion.

This is the next pole going North.

The base of this pole also shows signs of rot, similar to scribing a tile before snapping it.

A close-up of the base shows the characteristic cone-shaped base of a rotting pole.
Notice the lack of sharp, well defined breaks around the circumference of the base.

A side view of the same pole shows a narrowing (decay) around the circumference of the base.

The result was more catastrophic failures.

The next pole North also showed signs of rot.

A ruler indicates that the outer rings were compromised.

This view of the same pole shows the difference between the rotted outside, and the good wood inside.

The same pole, showing a very revealing wide angle shot.


Remember that picture at the top of the page? This will refresh your memory:

For reference, this is the first picture at the top of this page, looking North on these downed spans. Every downed pole had rot and decay. The "smoking gun,"
however, was the first pole to the south, in the detailed pictures below.


This is the first pole to the South, the "SMOKING GUN."

This pole is virtually a sponge, with advanced rotting.

While digging around the base of the pole to inspect the break, I found an orange ribbon.

An orange ribbon is tied around a defective pole by a utility to indicate the pole needs to be replaced.

The orange ribbon, buried under the debris and grass, indicated that the pole had been marked for replacement, but was never replaced.  The ribbon had slid down the pole, and was covered by dirt and tall grass. It was so old, that it broke in half when I picked it up. This is the "SMOKING GUN." A utility had identified and marked this rotted pole, but did not follow up in a timely manner.

This pole was the weakest link.

Part of the base of this pole was the consistency of sawdust.

It took very little pressure from my thumb to push my car's ignition key into this rotted pole.