Southside goes dark

PARKERSBURG – An early evening power outage affecting about 4,200 households in south Parkersburg Wednesday is suspected to have been caused by weakened equipment after a mid-day outage, caused by a bird, officials said.

The earlier outage affected 1,500 southside residents and four schools for about 45 minutes on Wednesday, officials said.

Around 8:30 p.m., calls began flooding the 911 center, officials said. Dozens of callers reported an explosion, power outages and intersections without working traffic lights, officials said.

Reports trickled in about the power substation at the intersection of Edgelawn Street and Camden Avenue being on fire, the 911 center said.

An equipment failure in the Edgelawn substation resulted in what power company officials are calling “a minor explosion and small fire” on Wednesday evening, said Greg Hefner, spokesman for MonPower.

The incident knocked out electricity to the Mineral Wells, Camden and Broadway circuits for more than an hour on Wednesday evening, Hefner said.

The explosion and fire were suspected to be caused by stress on power equipment caused by a bird getting into the Broadway circuit transformer around 12:42 p.m. Wednesday, Hefner said.

As of 9:45 p.m., 2,650 customers had their power restored, Hefner said. An additional 1,485 customers remained without power while crews examined the lines to determine if additional problems existed, he said.

The bird, species undetermined, got inside the Broadway circuit transformer, located down the electrical stream from the Edgelawn substation, Hefner said. The power outage occurred at 12:42 p.m.

“It is uncommon for a bird to get inside a transformer, but it does happen on occasion,” Hefner said.

Parkersburg South High School, Franklin Elementary School, Fairplains Elementary School and the Wood County Technical Center were without electricity during the incident, said Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools.

The four Wood County schools were able to continue normal operations during the power outage and sustained no major incidents, Fling said.

Repair crews began restoring power approximately 45 minutes after the incident occurred, Hefner said.

What remained of the bird was located inside the transformer, allowing electrical crews to accurately identify the type of animal responsible, Hefner said.

Electrical crews were already in the area and were able to respond quickly to the outage once it was reported, Hefner said.

“Any time there is an outage, it is our top priority to respond as quickly as possible,” Hefner said.

To prevent strain on the power grid, electricity was restored in stages, Hefner said. The majority of customers had power restored by 1:23 p.m. and the final customers were restored by 1:50 p.m. in the first outage.