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Power outage stresses county, safety agencies

The Rocky Mountain Power facilities located near Price sent troubleshooting crews out to investigate the electricty outage on July 6.

By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate community editor

As the July 4th holiday weekend came to a close, the lights went out in Carbon County. More than 1,725 Rocky Mountain Power customers reported loss of electricity following a lightning strike at 4:33 p.m. on July 6, according to company spokesperson Margret Oler.

In addition to residential impact which included closed supermarkets and other businesses, the outage affected several emergency organizations, including the Carbon County Public Safety Dispatch Center where all emergency calls are routed within the local area.

"It was really bad for us," said public safety dispatch manager Marjean Hansen. "All of our landlines went down and we couldn't take or make a single phone call."

Hansen stressed that safeguards within the system immediately re-routed all 9-1-1. traffic to the Vernal office. Vernal dispatchers relayed the local information to the Carbon County center via an internal intercom system.

"Thank goodness all of the public safety dispatch centers work so well together," said Hansen. "It was a really busy night because of the weather and all the centers came together to help us out."

According to Hansen, the Richfield, Vernal, Grand, Emery and San Juan County dispatch centers displayed exceptional teamwork under tense circumstances.

The Carbon dispatch center lost landline communications at 5:30 p.m. The last line was not restored until nearly 12 hours later.

According to Oler of Rocky Mountain Power, the outage caused some damage that could take more than a day to repair.

"During the evening of the July 6 troubleshooting crews were able to isolate the damaged line and reroute power returning electricity to most of the residents while repairing the Mathis substation," pointed out Oler.

"However, problems with an underground line are still under repair and underground problems typically take a little longer to fix," added the company's spokesperson.

While the recent power outage was linked to weather-related problems, Rocky Mountain Power has outlined several safety precautions Carbon County residents should take to insure the safety of their homes.

"Take time to eliminate potential hazards in your home and instruct family members on household electrical safety," advises the company's website.

The utility company recommends several tips for safely using electricity inside the home.

Rocky Mountain Power encourages Castle Valley consumers to:

•Never overload electrical circuits.

Overloading circuits is a common cause of fires.

•Use outlet plug covers if small children live in the house.

•Use extension cords wisely.

People should never exceed the load rating, always throw away damaged cords and don't use extension cords as a replacement for permanent wiring.

•Attach extension cords to appliances before plugging them into outlets.

•Always disconnect by pulling on the plug, not the cord.

•Unplug appliances before attempting any repairs.

•Use three-pronged grounded plugs only in three-prong outlets; never cut the third prong of a plug.

•Never use electrical appliances near water.

Hairdryers, radios and other bathroom or kitchen appliances should be kept away from sinks and tubs.

•Use ground fault circuit interrupters, outlets with red and black test and reset buttons in bathrooms, garages, near kitchen sinks and outdoors, as they are designed to shut off power during a short circuit or grounding event.

•When performing electrical do-it-yourself projects around the home, consumers should always turn off circuit breakers and then test circuits to make sure they are de-energized before performing any work.

Professional electricians can help ensure large projects are performed according to electrical codes for the home.

For any additional information, Carbon County residents with Internet access may visit www.rockymountainpower.net.

Local residents may also contact the company toll-free 800-375-7085 for free safety materials.




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