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Lightning arrestor fire suspected cause of power outage on Monday

Good excuse for town of Crested Butte to update the phone system

By Cayla Vidmar

At 12:49 p.m. on Monday, the power in most of Crested Butte went out, the cause of which is suspected to be a lightning arrestor on a pole up Kebler Pass that houses breakers. The fire caused the circuit to fail, and gave Crested Butte folks a spontaneous lunch-break extension.

Roger Grogg, the chief operations officer for Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA), said the fire burned some grasses at the base of the pole. According to Grogg, the lightning arrestor “takes over voltage from lightning strikes and shunts the overvoltage ground, protecting the homes and businesses the line feeds.” He said there was no lightning to cause the arrestor to deploy on Monday, and he suspects the unit simply failed.

The outage caused a phone system issue at the Crested Butte Town Hall. According to town of Crested Butte administrative assistant Diner Theaker, “When the power came back on, the phone system did not.” Diner explained that the town was already considering updating the phone system because it was outdated, but the outage forced the town to install a new system unexpectedly. The new phone system is expected to be operational by the end of the week. In the meantime, the best way to contact town employees is by email. However, you can still place calls to the main town phone number, which is being answered on a temporary phone, with messages being run to the recipients physically.

Overall, Grogg says his crew at GCEA did a good job responding and getting power back on to the town in 17 minutes.

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