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Second big power outage in week hits Capitol Hill — UPDATE

A swath of power outage from the Hill’s western slope along E Olive Way all the way to E Pine’s eastern stretches in the Central District left about 6,500 customers in the dark Thursday morning, Seattle City Light said.

With a report of wires down near E Denny and Belmont Ave E around 9:30 AM, Seattle Fire was called to handle the emergency while City Light deployed crews to sort out how to repair the damaged wires and restore power to the area.

Engine 2 was on hand to help with the live wires. Thanks to Margo for the picture.

Monday, thousands of customers went dark after a branch fell on wires. That outage lasted only a few hours but some businesses and schools in the area closed for the day.

During Thursday’s outage, social media reports said stores including Central Co-op and Trader Joe’s were cleared of customers after the power loss. Radio station KEXP and others went off the air as their equipment in the area on the tall  E Madison TV and radio towers also lost power.

While the outage is the second disruption in service in the week for the area, City Light’s infrastructure around Capitol Hill has been particularly resilient thanks to the under-grounding of wires around many parts of the Hill and upgrades that have come with the waves of redevelopment and increased investment in power systems to keep Capitol Hill Station online.

UPDATE: Margo also has provided pictures of the downed wire that started the whole thing:

UPDATE x2 2:10 PM: The good news is Seattle City Light has sorted out what happened and restored power to thousands. But for an unlucky 1,200 or so customers around the POWHAT area of the Hill, sorry, but you might be in the dark through Friday morning.

In an afternoon update, City Light said a contractor “dug up an underground line, causing a voltage spike, ultimately causing the overhead wires on Denny to come down.”

“For the group of 1,228 customers out, our Underground crews are working to restore the underground line which will take much longer. Currently, the estimated restoration time is 6 a.m. on Friday,” City Light writes.

If you know somebody who resides in the Pine–Olive Way–Howell Area Triangle, maybe invite them over tonight.

UPDATE 9/13/19 8:15 AM: City Light crews worked through the night and reported restoration of power early Friday morning:

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7 thoughts on “Second big power outage in week hits Capitol Hill — UPDATE

  1. Excuse my ignorance, but is there any chance of moving transmitters from the towers on the hills to towers on our ever increasing number of downtown skyscrapers? The towers are kind of interesting from a distance (I enjoy them in the view from my apartment), but they are really nasty when your up close to them and under them. Removing them would improve the. With or hood, IMO.

    • No. FM and TV transmissions are pretty much line of sight, so they have to be on top of hills.
      Put them on top of downtown skyscrapers and Capitol Hill would block transmissions to the Eastside.
      Also the skyscrapers would have to be specially designed for the extra weight and wind-loading of big towers on top of them.
      And they’d be in the flight path for Boeing Field (and Lake Union seaplanes?), so the FAA would regulate the heck out of it.
      And it’s Seattle and everyone would need to have their say, and there would be a “Seattle Process” – I’d guess a least 20 years if you start campaigning today.
      (of course TV and radio over the air will be obsolete by then, so you can just take the towers down anyway).

  2. As I was carrying my baby boy down the lower escalator of the Capitol Hill train station, the lights went out. I had a moment of time-dilation, where I thought about the ramifications of losing power to the escalators while holding him, and grabbed tightly to the handrail with the hand that wasn’t holding the baby. The escalator did not simply slow down; it SLAMMED to a stop. I was pitched forward a couple more stairs, but stayed upright and held on to him, picturing him tumbling down the rest of the sharp metal steps.

    Truly Scary Shit.

    • Holy shit. So happy you and your kid are okay. This contractor needs to face charges of criminal negligence, though, for causing a situation that could have seriously injured you two.

      • Thank you very much.

        And I have felt for some time that LOTS of issues with the escalators in most of the train stations need to be addressed. It is unbelievable, how often they break down, especially at Westlake. I think some low-budget crap was deemed a ‘good deal’, as way higher-quality escalators obviously are available.

  3. Never experienced an outage like this that has a clear source of liability, unlike weather events. Any idea on whether or not the incompetent contractor that caused all this loss of time and property is going to be on the hook for it? I’m likely out a day of at-home work and all the food in my fridge because some idiot dug without checking.

  4. It’s a wonder we didn’t have a lot of traffic accidents. The stoplights were out at 17th and Madison right in front of Trader Joe’s and the bus stop.