Fire cuts electricity to 1,200 local customers

Classrooms at four Sunnyside schools went temporarily dark this morning, Monday, when a power outage affected 1,200 Pacific Power customers in Sunnyside.

Sunnyside High School, Harrison Middle School, Chief Kamiakin Elementary School and Pioneer Elementary School all lost electrical power for about a half hour this morning, said school district spokesman Curtis Campbell.

He said classes were uninterrupted at the four schools.

Campbell noted that a longer power outage would have required the district to consider meal alternatives for its hot lunch program. Campbell said there have been cases during cold winter months when classes were cancelled during power outages due to lack of heat.

Power was lost at 9:26 a.m. today when a pole caught fire across from the high school at Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church. Power was restored at 10:01 a.m.

That's according to Pacific Power spokesman Bob Gravely. He said it was the latest of several recent pole fires in the Lower Valley.

"During a prolonged dry period dust and dirt builds up in the poles and this time of year the first few weeks of rain sets off a chemical reaction that causes fire," Gravely said.

He noted a dozen or so poles have caught fire over the past week or so.

As of press time, Gravely said the Reformed Church was the only customer without power.

After power is fully restored, Gravely noted that Pacific Power crews will need to replace the pole that caught fire this morning.


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