Tree falling in Port Angeles causes Peninsula-wide power interruption
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles public utility workers prepare to remove a fallen tree from wires along West Marine Drive in Port Angeles on Wednesday.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A tree crashing into power lines in Port Angeles caused a brief but widespread power interruption from Forks to Port Townsend on Wednesday.

The tree that fell at about 11:45 a.m. on the Port Angeles bluffs above Marine Drive also blacked out homes in the neighborhood above the fallen tree and reduced power at Nippon Paper Industries USA at the base of Ediz Hook.

The voltage drop, which lasted only a few seconds, was reported by the Clallam and Jefferson county public utility districts.

All power in the North Olympic Peninsula is fed by the Bonneville Power Administration, and a fault in the system will cause the entire system to “pause,” said George Drake, light operations manager for the city of Port Angeles utility department.

It sometimes happens in more remote areas around Joyce or Sequim, and even relatively minor incidents can cause the power to momentary blip off, he said.

The short in the power lines cut off electrical power to 732 customers between Tumwater Valley and Valley Creek Valley, some homes to the west of Tumwater and the Port of Port Angeles Boat Haven, Drake said.

It also reduced power to the Nippon paper mill, said city workers.

Most customers had electrical power restored by 12:30 p.m.

Boat Haven power was restored at about 1 p.m., while Nippon's lines were switched on at 1:30 p.m., Drake said.

It was a relatively massive outage for such a minor incident, he said.

Drake said a tree fell across a 69,000-volt Nippon power line, knocking it into a 12,000-volt city power line, which knocked both out of service, Drake said.

Trees on the bluff near the power lines are regularly trimmed to keep them away from the power lines, he said, but the one that fell into the lines came from higher on the bluff.

Despite the dry summer, the bluff in that area is very wet, he said.

Tree trimmers removed the tree, and the power lines were checked for safety before power could be restored.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 20. 2014 7:14PM
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