NEW CASTLE — It was deja vu all over again in downtown New Castle yesterday.
A power outage struck a portion of the city, including the downtown, just a couple of weeks after a similar one hit the same area.
The incidents were remarkably similar, taking place on quiet, sunny afternoons. And in both cases, tree branches were to blame.
According to Chuck Jackson, area manager for Penn Power, yesterday’s outage was attributed to a tree that had fallen across a main transmission line on Atlantic Avenue. The incident occurred a few minutes before noon.
Jackson noted the tree was off Penn Power’s right of way.
The resultant outage impacted Penn Power substations on West Washington and Grant streets, affecting about 3,000 customers, Jackson said.
Crews were able to restore power to about half of these customers in about a half-hour to 45 minutes, according to Jackson. The rest were back on line around 3 p.m. That included portions of the downtown, where businesses were forced to close and send employees home, and traffic was slowed by the lack of working lights at multiple intersections.
Regarding the tree that fell, Jackson said it was not being cut and no activity had prompted it. He said he had spoken recently with a forester, who told him heavy rains had softened the ground, making it more likely for some trees with weak roots to topple.
New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem said the only accident linked to yesterday’s outage hada occurred at Jefferson and North streets, shortly after the power went out. At the time, officers were moving to cover intersections to direct traffic. He said there were injuries associated with the collision.
The New Castle police and officers from the Lawrence County district attorney’s and sheriff’s offices were out directing traffic at downtown intersections for the duration, he said.
Reports of outages came in from portions of Union Township and as far west as Parkstown Corners.
On July 25, an outage was caused by branches that had fallen on a line while a tree was being trimmed. That incident cut power in a similar area of the downtown.
About 5,500 customers were affected by that outage, according to Penn Power.