Power returned to the majority of the thousands of Flathead Electric Cooperative customers who lost it Tuesday after downed power lines caused major outages across the Flathead Valley.
FEC spokeswoman Wendy Ostrom Price said a major transmission line fell onto power distribution lines after a clamp used to keep the wires tight broke off for unknown reasons. The wires were fine and put back into place, Ostrom Price said. FEC crews were able to reroute and restore power within two hours for most FEC customers, but there were still some outlying areas without power as of Tuesday afternoon.
Ostrom Price said the outage occurred at 11:56 a.m. when a major transmission line fell near Home Depot in north Kalispell. The power outage initially affected about 10,000 people, but crews had worked to reroute power back to about 3,000 customers within an hour of the outage on Tuesday afternoon. FEC started restoring power for priority customers first, such as the airport and the hospital, Ostrom Price said. Traffic jams, caused by traffic signal outages, slowed the responding crews on their way to the scene.
For safety reasons, the work on the power lines had to be done with meticulous precision. “It’s quite a process when you have a situation of this magnitude,” Ostrom Price said.
The downed lines affected power all the way up to Big Mountain, Marion and Ferndale, Ostrom Price said.
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