Power outages plague Bitterroot

2011-11-25T13:45:00Z Power outages plague BitterrootBy DAVID ERICKSON Ravalli Republic The Billings Gazette
November 25, 2011 1:45 pm  • 

FLORENCE -- About 2,600 people in the Florence area lost power on Friday morning, when high winds knocked out a transmission line at about 8:30 a.m.

The power was restored at about 11:15 a.m., according to NorthWestern Energy spokeswoman Michelle Sullivan. She said that 100 of the customers affected Friday were served by NorthWestern Energy, while the other 2,500 customers were served by Missoula Electric Coop.

The line that was affected Friday was one of the same lines that was knocked out on Wednesday night, when a massive power outage cut service to more than 18,000 people in Darby, Hamilton, Victor, Stevensville, Florence, Lolo and Missoula.

"At 10:12 p.m. Wednesday night, a tree was blown into a power line between the Missoula substation and the Doyle substation in the Woodchuck area, and took it down," Sullivan said.

"The majority of customers were restored within half an hour, but customers in Stevensville were out most of the night until power was restored at about 9:30 Thursday morning."

Sullivan said there were occasional brief power outages after the big one due to crews switching lines.

"All the power outages have been weather-related," she said. "I heard it is supposed to be windy still all day Friday. It's that time of year."

Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack, who also owns the historic Stevensville Hotel, said downtown Stevensville only lost power for about half an hour, but some people in the surrounding areas had a tougher go of it.

"We had a couple of different outages, but, in the main downtown area, they didn't last beyond a half-hour," he said. "Some people I know were off for as many as five hours or more. It seemed that everything got resolved shortly after 11 p.m.

"I was at a friend's house at Bell Crossing and she said her power didn't come on until 5 a.m. Thursday. It would have been a cold night for anybody on electric heat, but fortunately most of those people were on woodstoves. She was just worried because it was Thanksgiving and her oven was electric. But our fire and emergency personnel here didn't have any major problems."


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