Tree limb knocks out county power

March 27, 2007 11:00 pm

Triplicate staff

About 7,500 Del Norte County businesses and residences lost power Tuesday morning thanks to high winds.

"At about a quarter to 8 a.m., a tree limb landed on a couple of wires outside of (the) Smith River Substation," said Pacific Power spokesman Monte Mendenhall. "That caused a short to a to Simonson, Smith River, Belmont and Northcrest substations."

Net effect for Del Norters was a chilly, dark hour after a stormy, cold night.

"More than 7,500 customers in the downtown area, in rural areas and up the 101 corridor to the Oregon line were out," Mendenhall said.

Once crews located and removed the limb, they could re-energize the substations — a short process — and sent power down the lines.

"There are still scattered outages in the rural areas," Mendenhall said late Tuesday afternoon.

Preventing future outages isn't really a possibility, he added, because "in areas with lots of trees, we trim them in our corridor rights of way," but not along the length of each power line.

Pacific Power takes steps to protect its substations, such as "sectionalizing lines" and installing equipment to ensure the substations don't short out, Mendenhall said.

That, he said, prevents "much longer outages."