By JOE LoTEMPLIO and AMY HEGGEN
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Power was knocked out in a major portion of the City of Plattsburgh Monday afternoon, but the cause remained a mystery.
“We don’t know what really happened,” Municipal Lighting Department Manager William Treacy said Monday evening.
“We can’t find anything wrong right now.”
The electricity shut off in about half of the city, from the South End through much of the Center City and to parts of the North End shortly after 4 p.m. It remained out for about 90 minutes as crews tried to find the culprit.
The West End did not lose power.
“It might have been a lightning strike because we had several calls from people who said they saw a bright flash and heard a loud bang,” Treacy said.
The flash and bang were reported to be in the area of Lozier and Riley avenues in the North End. Treacy said a high-voltage 115-kv line runs through that area, and it could have been hit by lightning.
It rained extremely hard around 4 p.m. Monday, and visibility was hampered.
“People said they saw something but were not exactly sure where it was,” Treacy said.
The system automatically shut down at the St. Lawrence 3 substation on Arizona Avenue in the South End of the city, Treacy said. Whenever there is too much voltage in the line, the protective relay switches kick in and shut down the system, he explained.
“We checked it and didn’t find any dead animals or trees that might have caused it,” Treacy said.
“There were pockets of orange on the weather report, and there could have been some lightning.”
MLD crews finish work for the day at 3 p.m., so Treacy had to call them back in to fix the problem.
Crews were put in strategic places throughout the city, and the system was turned back on.
“They were watching to see if there were any trouble spots when we turned it back on, and we didn’t find any,” Treacy said.
No issues were noticed other than a traffic light at the intersection of Broad and North Catherine streets that was stuck in blinking-yellow mode.
The outage left people in the dark and stopped work at some places, but not all.
Bazzano’s Pizza on South Catherine Street lost power, but the ovens run on natural gas, so pizza was still on the menu.
“We’re only serving a few items; we can’t use the fryer,” owner Pierre Saba said.
“Of course, there will be less people.”
Michelle McKinnon, manager of the South Catherine Street Stewart’s Shop, covered the ice cream with cardboard while she waited for a maintenance worker to come hook up the generator.
“I’ve been at this store 25 years, and the power’s only gone out twice,” she said.
Fewer customers came into the dark store, and McKinnon and an employee wrote down transactions and were able to make change.
“We put our sandwiches in the cooler and keep everything closed,” she said.
McKinnon said she didn’t have a flashlight at her home but thought her daughter would get more homework done than usual during the power outage.
Mayor Donald Kasprzak said it could have been worse.
“We really appreciate the MLD crews coming back in to work and taking care of this,” he said.
Aside from the power outage, Public Works crews also had to clear out several storm drains around the city.
“The leaves are starting to fall off the trees now, and with all that rain, they just clogged up a lot of drains,” Public Works Superintendent Mike Brodi said.
City Police and Sheriff’s Department deputies directed traffic at busy downtown intersections during the outage.