Pole fire knocks out power in Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan


Christopher Mullen / Ketchikan Daily News

In Ketchikan, KPU's Jay Simmer holds a fire extinguisher, and Nick Kufner holds the nozzle as they work to extinguish a fire on a pole located on the 3400 block of Tongass Avenue across the street from The Landing Hotel on Thursday. After extinguishing the fire, they planned to replace the insulator and repair the pole.

A brief regionwide blackout across Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg last week started with a spark.

When a power pole in Ketchikan caught fire due to a failed insulator, the line was isolated so the fire could be extinguished - but removing the large load of Ketchikan's power from the grid overloaded two major hydroelectric facilities in Southeast, causing them to go offline and resulting in a complete loss of power in all three communities.

Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg get much of their electricity from hydropower projects owned by the Southeast Alaska Power Agency (SEAPA). SEAPA owns...

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