Friday, August 26, 2005

Wildfire prompts local power outage

Express Staff Writer

Residents of southern Blaine County were without power Wednesday afternoon after a wildfire near Shoshone required Idaho Power Co. to shut off a transmission line.

Gary Darling, a line crew foreman with Idaho Power, said the power went off at 1:45 p.m. He said it was returned to Hailey and Bellevue at about 2:30 p.m. and to Carey at about 3 p.m.

Darling said the line involved carries power from the Midpoint substation in Lincoln County near Shoshone through Dietrich and Richfield, and then north to Carey, Bellevue and Hailey.

Bureau of Land Management public affairs officer Sky Buffat said the power was shut off so planes could drop retardant over the power lines. She said the liquid retardant can transmit electricity from the lines to the plane.

Buffat said the fire began late in the morning on private land just east of Shoshone and spread to public land. She said the fire grew to 750 acres but was contained by Wednesday night.

Buffat said BLM firefighters were assisted by crews from the Shoshone, Richfield, Dietrich and Gooding fire departments.

The outage shut down traffic lights in Hailey for its duration, and for an additional two hours afterward. Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said his department contacted the Idaho Transportation Department to have the lights turned back on when the power came on, but there was no one in the vicinity to do so. McNary said police officers directed traffic from about 3:45 p.m. until the lights were turned back on at about 4:30 p.m.

Registration at Wood River High School, ongoing over the past week, was interrupted for the duration of the outage, which shut down computers.

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