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Power outage: Electricity to region cut as transmission lines clipped

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A construction worker stands on U.S. Highway 281/52 just north of Jamestown Tuesday stopping traffic when a power line was downed, stretching across the northbound and southbound lanes. Portions of Jamestown and some rural communities lost power as a result. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Around 2,772 Otter Tail Power Co. customers were without power for part of Tuesday afternoon in Jamestown along with more than 600 customers in surrounding communities after a dump truck struck a central transmission line, according to the company.

Around 1,386 customers affected in the company’s southwest line at Jamestown were brought back online shortly after the outage started around 12:20 p.m., said Jeff Hoff, customer service manager for Otter Tail Power Co. Through rerouting circuits most of those affected along the northwest line were back on at 2:05 p.m. except for under 100 customers in an isolated section near 13th Street and 4th Avenue Northwest who expected to be back online sometime after 5 p.m. or into the evening, he said.

“We were able to reroute and do some switching to pick up some customers, but we won’t get everybody back on until we get that line back up,” Hoff said.

Around 78 customers lost power in the Montpelier and Ypsilanti area but were back online soon after the outage started, Hoff said. Another 586 customers in rural areas of Gackle, Streeter, Medina, Windsor, Cleveland and Eldridge are still without power until the transmission line is restored, Hoff said.

Otter Tail workers are also patrolling Jamestown’s northwest line for more isolated outage-related problems, he said. There are also customers in the area of Jamestown’s southwest line without power because they are linked to the northwest line, he said.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol reported that a dump truck struck a power transmission line just north of Jamestown on U.S. Highway 281/52 at 10:10 a.m., according to the Stutsman County Communications Center.

Dale Laib, 58, of New Rockford, was cited for care required after driving a 2001 Sterling dump truck south along the U.S. Highway 52 frontage road from a gravel stockpile yard half a mile northwest of Jamestown. Laib failed to lower the dump box upon leaving the yard and struck four overhead power lines, severing two lines that came to rest across the highway, the patrol said.

Highway 52 was shut down for 3 1/2 hours until the powerlines and a pole support brace were replaced, the patrol said.

Otter Tail workers were dispatched to the scene but a series of problems related to a downed high voltage transmission line “dominoed from there,” Hoff said. The workers were attempting to isolate the line and there were problems with lines burning, he said.

“That is a transmission line with a main feed,” he said. “If you take out a main feed then it affects a large chunk of customers.”

Staff of downtown Jamestown businesses including Domino's Pizza, Babb’s Coffee House and Sabirs Buffalo Grill said the power was out for less than 15 minutes. That is not a long time in terms of serving but it means rebooting the computer system and handling transactions manually with customers who are in a hurry, said Michael Hiltner, supervisor of Sabirs Buffalo Grill.

Jon Lillejord, director of Sanford Health Jamestown Clinic, said they have their own generators that kicked in after just over 10 minutes. The sensitive medical items in controlled temperature settings were not affected, he said.

Jamestown High School generators kept classes going and the only school with a longer outage than the others was Louis L’Amour Elementary School, said Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public School District.

“All in all, it was addressed as quickly as was possible,” Lech said.

Calls to Jamestown Police Department about traffic and public safety issues during the outage were not returned.

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