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Electricity restored to 12,000
Arizona Public Service crews from around the state are working around the clock to restore power to thousands of customers who were still without power late Monday after a severe storm Sunday took out 65 power poles.
Most of the affected residents live in the area served by the Foothills substation, which lost all sources of power in the storm, said Steven Gotfried, APS spokesman.
At about 5 p.m. Sunday, a major storm with high winds struck the Yuma area, initially impacting about 19,000 APS customers. As of midnight, the number of customers without service stood at about 17,000.
As of 10:30 p.m. Monday, APS had restored power to 12,000 people, mostly in the Foothills, company spokeswoman Andrea Bereznak said. About 1,000 were still without electricity in isolated pockets of the Foothills, Yuma and Somerton, she added.
Crews planned to work through the night and hoped to have power restored to them by late last night or early Tuesday, she said.
Gotfried said the storm took out 65 power poles, several of them along South Frontage Road and others along Foothills Boulevard. Areas of both roadways were still closed by mid-Monday as crews worked on the power lines.
For a brief time Sunday evening, traffic on Interstate 8 in the Foothills area also was diverted because of the downed lines, confirmed Gabriella Kemp, Yuma-area spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The Foothills was heavily impacted because the storm took out both sources of power into the Foothills substation, Gotfried said. "All the ways to get power into the substation were knocked down."
The initial focus is on restoring the sources of power to the Foothills substation as that will enable APS to bring the area with the largest number of customers back in service the fastest, Gotfried said earlier yesterday. During the height of the storm, APS was receiving reports of power outages and downed lines from both customers and public safety officers, Gotfried said. By 8 p.m., the utility had a map of trouble spots, and crews from around Arizona were being mobilized. Help from Phoenix, Flagstaff, Casa Grande, Buckeye and other areas came to assist crews in Yuma. A total of 15 crews were working in Yuma, 11 of them from out of town, he said.
Cleanup and repair of the damage is complicated by the fact that the damaged poles carry multiple lines at different voltage levels.
APS brought in dry ice for those without power and was distributing it Monday morning at the Foothills Walmart.
"It was a steady stream of traffic at the distribution center," Gotfried said, noting that the utility distributed 18,000 pounds of dry ice in three hours.
"We ordered all that we could get. That was all that was available in the entire state."
Customers affected by the outage who wish to buy their own ice can do so and be reimbursed for their purchase by APS as long as they retain their receipts.
It was a busy night as well for Rural/Metro Fire Department, reported Charly McMurdie, public information officer.
Calls to the dispatch center started with a fire alarm at the old Fry’s in the Foothills. Engine 10 was responding to the call when it came upon downed power lines at 42nd Street and Foothills Boulevard.
The fire engine remained on scene until APS could secure the lines across the roadway. Engine 2 secured the fire alarm call and responded to South Frontage Road where the report came in of downed power poles from Avenue 8-1/2E to Avenida Compadres, as well as power lines across I-8.
There were also 911 calls from people trapped in their cars with live power lines surrounding them, McMurdie said. In addition, Rural/Metro was called out for power lines on top of trailers and in a tree at the 2600 block of West 4th Street, and a gas leak in the area of Fortuna Road and North Frontage Road.
While all this was occurring, McMurdie said, Rural/Metro was called to a rollover at Milepost 54 on I-8 and transported a patient to the hospital.