Is that white on the wall from the pole arcing?
That's the patio and yes, that's ash from the arc, that's what it did to the brick. I've seen times where lines have come down on sandy soil making a large area of glass.
That is sad.
What should they have done differently to prevent a tragic accident like this?
What should they have done? STAY AWAY FROM POWER LINES!!! If you don't know what you're doing... Leave it to a professional!
Well, yeah - I was thinking what a pro might do: have the poco cut power to nearby lines before installation, tie off the pole so it couldn't fall on the lines, build it in sections? iow, what would be the proper way to do an install of this nature?
Take down the power, or relocate it away from the power lines all together would be my suggestion.
What could they have done differently? NEVER erect or try to erect anything where it could come in contact with power lines. Even if you manage to get it up without a problem, if it can fall and reach the power lines the result will be a disaster.
That means ANY kind of power line and even things like ladders. STAY AWAY!
If this weren't so tragic I would say that this is a contender for the Darwin awards.