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A power outage that affected much of the eastern part of the valley was finally restored last night, after line workers worked in triple-digit heat to get the system back online.

Contracted line workers along with crews from Kittitas PUD No. 1 restored the Parke feeders 1 and 2 by 7:30 p.m. Monday, with feeder 3 serving Kittitas and Badger Pocket being restored later in the evening. The restoration ended the almost 36-hour outage that came on the heels of the Koffman Road Fire in the Parke Creek area.

Kittitas PUD No. 1 General Manager Matt Boast said the initial outage reports came in at 10:21 a.m. on Sunday, with line workers being immediately dispatched to patrol the line and investigate the cause of the outage.

“The cause of the outage wasn’t initially obvious,” Boast said. “The guys were patrolling for some time trying to find a problem that was not clear.”

At some point between the initial dispatch and 1 p.m., Boast said crews began to notice smoke in the area of the wildfire. As fire crews were dispatched to the incident, he said PUD crews were locked out of the area, with the fire crews working to extinguish the power poles that were on fire. Boast said there were 17 pole structures damaged in the fire. As of Monday afternoon, he said a cause of the fire hadn’t been officially announced.

“The fire marshal is doing an investigation into the cause of the fire and possibly the outage as well,” he said. “We have to let them finish their investigation and make a determination.”

Boast said six contracted line crews were dispatched to make repairs to the system once cleared to enter the area by firefighters. At the height of the outage, he said just over 1,000 residents were affected by the incident.

“This line that we lost the 17 poles on serves the Parke Substation area,” he said. “There’s roughly 1,000 customers that receive power from that substation.”

Boast explained that the power for the Parke Substation comes from Ellensburg via a radio feed. On Sunday night, he said the PUD was able to backfeed some power to customers from another substation, but the amount of power they could distribute was limited.

“We could only pick up about 100 customers in the No. 81 Road and Snodgrass Road area,” he said. “We picked up as much load as we safely could from the other substation, but the lines are so far away that we couldn’t pick up any more safely.”

The lines in the affected area are rated for 130 amps, and Boast said if the PUD had tried to put more customers on a line than the system could handle, other areas of the system would be at a threat of meltdown.

“Then we would have two problems,” he said. “We can’t overload the equipment to take over all of those. That station is designed to pick up those 1,000 customers, and the lines that are intended to backfeed are not intended to pick up an entire substation.”

Crews spent Monday repairing the system in extreme heat conditions, and Boast said the hard work resulted in the PUD being able to bump up the estimated restoration time to 7 p.m. Monday. With the priority being placed on restoring the power as quickly as possible and ensuring the substation will hold under the increased power load of residents using high amounts of power for appliances such as air conditioning units, Boast said crews will work Tuesday on cleaning up after the mess caused by the fire.

“Our linemen did such an incredible job getting things back up,” he said. “I also want to thank all the volunteers and other agencies and businesses that have helped the community out, including the Red Cross, the sheriff’s office and the cooling centers that helped people who were out of power. I know lots of people that lent generators to people that needed to keep freezers cold. I heard about people hauling water to animals or asking people if they wanted to bring their animals to their pastures. All those things are evidence of a community that cares about each other.”

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!


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