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Possible substation explosion knocks out power in Ellsworth business district

Mario Moretto | BDN
Mario Moretto | BDN
A Bangor Hydro technician arrives just before noon on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, at the Hancock Substation on Downeast Highway in Hancock. Much of Ellsworth's business district was rendered powerless Sunday morning. One witness said she saw a large explosion at the substation.
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

HANCOCK, Maine — The power was knocked out Sunday morning in much of Ellsworth’s business district, possibly because of an explosion at a Bangor Hydro substation just over the town line in Hancock.

A large swath of town went dark around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. By 12:30 p.m., power was back on.

Bangor Hydro spokesman Bob Potts said it was a short outage, but a large one, knocking out power in Ellsworth and several surrounding communities. He estimates that more than 8,000 customers were without power.

“That’s a good size outage,” Potts said. “A lot of power comes off that substation.”

On High Street in Ellsworth, traffic became congested while traffic signals went dark for about an hour. The blackout seemed to be centered along High Street, Beckwith Hill and Downeast Highway, where many of Ellsworth’s shops, restaurants, supermarkets and other businesses are located.

One woman said she saw an explosion at the substation Sunday morning.

“My ears are still ringing,” said Mary Ellen Crabtree, an employee at Simons Hancock Farms, located on Downeast Highway across the street from the substation.

“I was standing by the mums and it sounded like firecrackers,” she said. “I saw a big white light, a huge explosion and then a sound like a cannon.”

Technicians from Bangor Hydro arrived at the substation around noon and power was restored to all affected areas around 12:30.

Potts couldn’t say whether the substation malfunction was caused by an explosion, but said it was easy to repair either way.

“It was an equipment malfunction, but a relatively easy fix,” Potts said. “We were able to restore power very quickly, which is a good scenario.”

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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