Power failed from Gold Beach to the California border for hours Thursday as a result of maintenance intended to prevent outages.
Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative General Manager Jim Arntz said a contract tree crew removing trees that could threaten transmission lines accidentally felled a tree that took out the two main lines from Gold Beach to Brookings at 10:09 a.m.
Arntz said two lines were then opened at the Bonneville Power Administrations Rogue substation north of Gold Beach.
Bonneville then gave Coos-Curry clearance to energize the lines to its Gold Beach substation, and power was restored to the Gold Beach area at 11:47 a.m.
Workers completed the repairs to the No. 2 line to Brookings at 1:45 p.m. and restored power to the Brookings district shortly after 2 p.m.
Repairs to the No. 1 line were completed at 7:45 p.m., restoring power to the Cape Sebastian area.
Arntz said 16 crew members from all four of Coos-Currys districts responded to the outage. They completed repairs on 12 separate transmission poles in eight hours.
While this accident and the resulting power outage were unfortunate, said Arntz, It is important to note that there were no injuries to either our crew members or the members of the contract tree crew.
As always, we are committed to repairing and maintaining our lines in the safest possible manner.
Lauren Porsch, manager of Coos-Currys Brookings district, toured the outage site on Thursday afternoon, and again Friday morning.
What a sight, what a disaster, he said.
He said the tree fell downhill across the two main 115 kV lines in an inaccessible area off Carpenterville Road between Myers Creek and Pistol River.
At first, Porsch thought the tree fell in one of the stretches where the lines run on the same metal towers.
When he reached the site, he found it was where the lines ran on wooden poles, 70-80 feet tall, separated by 50 or 60 feet.
Porsch said the Douglas fir was about 100 feet tall. It fell across the No. 1 line, shattering the insulators and snapping the inch thick steel line.
He said the No. 2 line was also hit by the top 15 feet of the tree. Again, the insulators shattered, bringing the line down.
Porsch said the tree then slipped off the No. 2 line and the line rebounded over the top of the pole. The line tripped off instantly when the tree hit it.
The crews had to lift the extremely heavy steel line back over the pole to the correct side and remount it on new insulators.
Porsch said the No. 2 line doesnt have the capacity of the No. 1 line, but can sustain quite a load in an emergency.
He said it was able to supply the needs of the Brookings district Thursday afternoon, though it would have been marginal with winter power demands.
Porsch said the insulators are designed to break under enough stress before the poles are damaged. The poles were not harmed in this accident.
The No. 1 line was repaired with a splice that Porsch likened to a Chinese finger-puzzle.
He said the broken ends of the line were inserted into each end of the splice. The greater the tension on the line, the more the splice digs in and grips. Porsch said the repair is permanent.
He said the big trucks with cherry pickers couldnt traverse the rough terrain. Crews were brought in by four-wheel-drive pickups and had to work by hand.
He said in a winter storm, even the pickups wouldnt have made it. We lucked out in that respect, he said.
Porsch said the linemen put boards in the poles to walk on about 75 feet up so they could replace the insulators and raise the lines with hoist gins.