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Man Cuts Live Wire, Leaves Thousands Without Power

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) -- A suspected copper thief is in critical condition after cutting into a live wire, leaving thousands in San Bernardino, Calif., without power, police said.

The man, who climbed a power pole, was hit with 33,000 volts of electricity when he cut a live wire and is now hospitalized, police said.

“It caused the subject to be thrown quite some distance.  When initial responding officers and medical personnel arrived on scene, he was actively on fire,” said Police Lt. Mike Madden.

More than 2,300 Edison customers in the central district of San Bernardino were without power for more than an hour.

“It does have very dire consequences and this happens … it’s not just a matter of if this will happen, but when — if subjects continue to engage in this type of activity,” Madden said.

“We have had prior incidents such as this.  This was just a dramatic reminder of how dangerous this type of criminal activity is,” Madden added.

Copper theft is common across the country. Scrap metal can be sold for up to four dollars a pound.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio