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Pole fire knocks Cottonwood off grid

COTTONWOOD – Hundreds of grid users were left without electricity last Thursday night, April 17, when a power pole fire at the south entrance from U.S. Highway 95 caused an outage.

Jeff Scott, construction manager at Avista Utilities’ Grangeville office, said 666 Cottonwood area customers lost power during the outage, which was first reported at 7:18 p.m.

“We were able to make some temporary repairs and restored power to 635 customers at 9:01 p.m.,” Scott said. “We made final repairs and restored power to the remaining 31 customers at 11:55 p.m.”

Scott also described “some initial concern that the power line could have fallen into the highway” that led police to redirect highway traffic through Cottonwood. “The police made a good decision in isolating the areas of potential impact and keep everyone away from the power lines,” Scott said. “My crew reports that the line was not in danger of falling into the highway, and it was a good call with the police department redirecting traffic anyway.”

The request for the Idaho Transportation Department to reroute traffic was made by Idaho County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scott Paulsen, who responded to a 7:31 p.m. report to ICSO that a power pole was on fire.

“The cause of the pole fire from what we can tell was equipment failure brought on by the weather,” Scott said.

The area received about three-tenths of an inch of rain that night.

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