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Plumber electrocuted digging trench in West Phila.

A plumber excavating a trench in West Philadelphia was electrocuted yesterday after striking a 13,000-volt underground power line, causing a short circuit that shut off service to 1,300 customers for several hours, said Michael Wood, a spokesman for Peco Energy Co.

Wood said the contractor had failed to notify utility companies before digging in the 800 block of North Brooklyn Street, near Lancaster Avenue. About 3:25 p.m., the plumber's equipment came into contact with the high-power line, killing the plumber instantly and shutting down power to a large area. His name was not released.

Electrical service was restored after two hours, but it took two more hours more to make sure the excavation was safe to enter to remove the body, Wood said.

Under state law, anyone planning to excavate is required to call Pennsylvania One Call System at 1-800-242-1776 three days in advance so that utilities can mark the location of underground lines. "It is essential for the safety of workers and the public to call before you dig," said Wood.

- Andrew Maykuth