'Weird winds' led to north end electrical outage

4500 customers lose power for over an hour

OROVILLE – A windstorm knocking a transmission line into a fiber optic pole is being blamed for an 80 minute power outage on Tuesday, Sept. 17 that affected the Oroville, Ellisforde and Whitestone areas, according to the Okanogan County PUD.

“That night we were having those weird winds and a transmission line near Epson Salt Road got blown into a fiber pole and shorted out,” said Tim Devries, director of Engineering and Operations for the PUD. “The system saw that as a fault and opened the breakers and that caused the shut down for all the customers served by the Whitestone, Ellisforde and Oroville Substations…. over 4500 accounts.”

The contact between the transmission and the fiber pole happened about 7:20 p.m. and caused the pole to catch on fire. The Tonasket Fire Department was dispatched to the scene and a photo of the burning pole has been posted on their Facebook page.

Devries said that two BPA transmission lines come out of Omak, one goes to the Tonasket Substation and terminates there. The other continues on to Oroville and is no longer BPA, it is tapped and goes to Loomis and the Whitestone Substation and then is tapped again to go to the Ellisforde Substation.

Most people made due with candles and flashlights when the power went out and patiently waited for it to resume. In Oroville most of the businesses were closed with Akiens Harvest Food and Prince’s Ace Hardware still running on backup generators.

Devries said that a lightning storm that occurred around the same time as the power went out also cause some of the utility’s customers in the Tonasket area to suffer intermittent outages.