A Haines Borough grader struck a power pole on Deishu Drive Monday morning, knocking out electricity areawide for about 10 minutes.
Carlos Jimenez, the borough’s director of public facilities, said public works superintendent Bruce Smith backed the grader into the pole while plowing. The collision sheared the pole off at the ground, broke it in one other place, and downed power lines, Jimenez said.
“I think he knew where he was going. He just misjudged the distance between his wing blade and the pole. Accidents happen,” Jimenez said.
Smith has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a complete review of the incident, borough manager Mark Earnest said Wednesday.
Danny Gonce, AP&T’s power manager in Haines, said power was restored within 15 minutes for all but 10 residents on Deishu, so workers could safely repair the pole and downed lines.
Gonce said it was unclear whether the change to the electric grid amounted to a surge or a “brown-out.” A surge is defined as too much power; a brown-out, too little.
“It’s hard to tell. We’re looking at the big picture. It could have been a surge by the time it got to the consumer level. ‘Surge’ is the common buzzword, but it may or may not have been that,” Gonce said. Both power fluctuations can cause equipment damage, he said.
Jimenez said the borough is financially responsible for the pole. Some residents and business owners, though, have attributed damage to electronics and other equipment as a result of the abrupt power change.
Gonce said AP&T estimated damage on the power end of things at about $5,000; estimates for damage to the telephone lines were unavailable Wednesday, but Gonce said they would be considerably less than $5,000.
Patty Campbell, owner of Haines Cable TV, said the accident damaged the main cable line as well as three drop wires on Deishu Drive. Campbell spent Monday afternoon restringing drop wires and re-coring the main line to restore television service in the area.
“It was a big mess. It took us from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to get almost all of it done... Our main line cable is rigid. And so it snaps and it snaps in places that you don’t want it to snap. So when the pole snapped of course the wires broke,” Campbell said.
Campbell said she would be billing the borough for between $500 and $1,000.
Scott also discussed the incident with Sam McPhetres, the technology coordinator for the borough school district. McPhetres reported two small battery back-ups at the school were destroyed as a result of the power fluctuation.
The grader was not damaged.