Lightning strike likely cause of massive power outage

Posted July 24, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2011, at 11:56 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine – Wild weather was the theme across much of Maine Thursday, from lightening strikes to a tornado watch that stretched across most of the state.

A system-wide power outage that stretched across four counties created concern and alarm Thursday morning for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. customers who found themselves without lights, water, or a way to perk their morning coffee.

A lightening strike may have caused the outage that left about 115,000 Bangor Hydro customers were in the dark for a couple of hours starting shortly before 8 a.m., spokeswoman Susan Faloon said.

After power was restored, Bangor Hydro officials began investigating the cause of the incident but still couldn’ t pinpoint a cause Thursday afternoon.

” The focus has been on restoration,” Faloon said. ” Most customers are back up by now and those that aren’ t should be up shortly.”

The company’ s entire service area in Penobscot County, a small portion of Piscataquis County and most of Hancock and Washington counties were affected by the outage.

The only exception was a small portion of Eastport that kept the lights on using a small generator.
Although the streetlights and traffic signals were out, Bangor Police Sgt. Allen Hayden said drivers took precautions.

” There was nothing as far as accidents go,” he said. ” We had number alarms coming in here, but that’ s normal with outages.”

Hollywood Slots on Main Street in Bangor never missed a beat and their large generator kept the facility operating.

Eastern Maine Medical Center and Bangor International Airport also kept things going using auxiliary power systems.

Approximately 2,700 Central Maine Power Co. customers lost service Thursday morning in connection with the Bangor Hydro outage. Company spokesperson Gail Rice said that CMP has a circuit that shut down in the Hermon area about 8 a.m. and was restored at 9:45 a.m. The affected customers were in much of Hermon, and parts of Levant, Carmel and Kenduskeag.

” That was our only major outage,” Rice said.

During the outage, Gov. John Baldacci urged Mainers to remain calm.

” The most important thing right now is for folks to remain calm. This is a large outage, but it’ s expected to only last a couple of hours. Emergency personnel are standing by to assist people who need help, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency is monitoring the situation,” Baldacci said Thursday in a press release.

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