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Electrical storm and downed tree cause outages

Several Islanders have been left in the dark on more than one occasion recently when power failures affected large parts of Vashon.

Last Thursday evening’s electrical storm caused a phone service and power outage that lasted for several hours on Maury Island.

A tree limb fell about 7 p.m., downing power lines and creating a fire that burned through a fiber optic cable that provided phone service to those on Maury, according to Hank Lipe, fire chief at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR).

Island officials coordinated with those at Puget Sound Energy and Centurytel, but crews were needed from off Island; power was not restored until 2:30 a.m. and phone service not until 8 a.m. Friday, Lipe said.

During the outage, VIFR activated part of its emergency management plan and staffed the Dockton firehouse so that if an emergency arose for someone without phone service, help would be nearby. VashonBePrepared also worked with VIFR and sent out an emergency e-mail notice, informing people to use their cell phones or go to Dockton if necessary. In addition, Voice of Vashon broadcast updates on 1650 AM, which is used to keep Islanders informed during emergencies.

There were no emergencies that arose during the hours of the outage, Lipe noted.

Should events like this happen in the future, Lipe encouraged Islanders to tune in to 1650 AM for the most recent information.

More recently, 3,500 households were without power on Sunday when a tree in the 20700 block of 107th Ave. S.W. fell onto a transmission line about 4:30 p.m., causing a small brush fire as well as the power outage, according to a spokesperson for Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

On-Island PSE service people were able to make temporary repairs by about 7:30 p.m., but further personnel and supplies were needed to make the repair permanent. Crews turned the power off again at 10:30 p.m. and worked throughout the night. Power was restored at 5:18 a.m., according to PSE.

At least one PSE serviceman is always on the Island, according to Patti McClements, the community service supervisor at Vashon’s Puget Sound Energy office.

Sometimes that individual or team is able to make whatever repairs are necessary, but other times, if the repairs are more extensive, as was the case Sunday, off-Island crews are needed, she said.

McClements and Brett Kranjcevich at VIFR suspected that Thursday’s storm weakened the tree that fell Sunday, likely making Thursday’s storm responsible for both days’ failures.

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