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Raccoon mischief results in Kooskia-area outage; zaps power to 1,018

— A curious raccoon survived to tell a shocking tale … at the expense of more than 1,000 Avista customers left without power for nearly nine hours last week.

Power was disrupted last Tuesday, July 21, 2:48 a.m., when a raccoon climbed onto equipment in the substation near Depot Street and Winona Grade Road in Kooskia, according to Avista spokesperson Debbie Simock. The station serves the Kooskia-Kamiah area, and the disruption affected 1,018 customers.

“Surprisingly, the raccoon survived, which is amazing,” she said. The first repair crews on the scene found the raccoon walking away from the station and appearing a bit dazed. The animal intrusion caused equipment damage, subsequently repaired, and power was restored at 11:34 a.m.

“Animals cause a number of outages,” Simock said, such as squirrels and birds, including wild turkeys whose wingspan can come into contact with lines. “There’s nothing that can be done to prevent that,” and methods have been tried to make areas less accessible, such as placing bird guards, “but these animals are nimble and are still able to make it into areas they shouldn’t be and cause outages.”

The incident also highlights the extreme danger of substations, Simock noted, “and why no one should enter one, except for utility workers.”

An unrelated outage was reported the following day, July 22, near the same substation as the result of a transmission pole fire. The substation was de-energized at 7:20 p.m. so the pole could be extinguished, and re-energized at 7:33 p.m. The outage affected 2,416 Avista customers. Cause of the fire was speculated due to accumulation of dust that combined with precipitation, acting as a conductor that caused the pole to spontaneously catch fire.


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