By Karen Wilkinson
Triplicate staff writer
A Tuesday afternoon power outage that affected all of Del Norte County and parts of Oregon's Josephine County was caused by a tree that fell onto a transmission line near Cave Junction, Ore., Pacific Power officials said.
But the tree wasn't the only factor that contributed to the outage, said Pacific Power spokesman Monte Mendenhall.
The other transmission line that serves Del Norte ¬ó there are only two ¬ó was being worked on for routine maintenance, so no backup was available when there normally would have been, Mendenhall said.
The outage, which lasted from 12:09 p.m. to 12:56 p.m., affected 14,000 homes and businesses in Del Norte and 9,700 in Oregon.
The tree that fell onto the transmission line was being fallen by a contract tree trimming crew, Mendenhall said.
"When it fell it obviously went the wrong direction and fell on our line instead of away from our line," he said.
The last time an outage of this size occurred was early July of this year, when a cottonwood tree near Grants Pass, Ore., fell onto a transmission line, leaving all of Del Norte County and some parts of Oregon's Josephine County without power for nearly two hours.
Some area businesses had to close their registers and doors while power was out Tuesday, but some kept serving customers as usual.
Employees at Tomasini's Enoteca kept their doors open and continued serving food and drinks, using calculators to figure change.
And Washington Mutual, though the bank didn't close, was taking customers one at a time even after power was restored, as its server crashed.
"We always let in one person at a time even with power issues," said Kris Fournier, the Crescent City branch financial center manager.
Health care facilities such as Sutter Coast Hospital and the Addie Meedom House had backup generators and kept running as usual.
But Wal-Mart on Washington Boulevard had customers leave until power was restored, said store manager Bob Boucher.
"The customers were very understanding," he said. "This happens relatively on a quarterly basis, so I think everyone is town is used to it."