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Power outage darkens parts of Franklin Co. over 2 hours

February 11, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - If there was a good time for a midwinter power outage, it was Wednesday when more than 1,700 Allegheny Power customers lost service for about 2 1/2 hours.

"It's warm out. That's a big help, because a lot of those places I assume have electric heat," said Denny Monn, Franklin County's acting emergency management coordinator. The sun was shining and temperatures were well into the 50s.

The area affected was primarily north and east of Chambersburg. Blacked out were Chambersburg Area Middle School, Franklin County Prison, the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Scotland School for Veterans' Children, Chambersburg Mall and hundreds of homes, according to Monn.

Power went out at 11:30 a.m. and was restored to all customers by 2 p.m., according to Allegheny Power Company spokesman Guy Fletcher. The outage was due to an equipment failure at a substation on Grand Point Road, but he said Wednesday afternoon the exact cause was unknown.

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The outage caused traffic problems at some of the county's busiest intersections, Monn said, adding fire police were sent to U.S. 30 at the Interstate 81 interchange, Pa. 997 at I-81 and at the entrance of Wal-Mart on U.S. 30, where traffic lights were out.

The outage covered portions of Chambersburg, as well as Greene and Guilford townships.

Despite the lack of electricity, hundreds of students at the middle school remained in class. Principal Barry Purvis said the school was able to operate its intercom system and flashlights were handed out where needed.

Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Administrator Chris Bailey said the backup generator went on automatically and the outage did not effect the gas-fired heating system.

The prison down the road on Franklin Farm Lane also has backup power and there were no problems, Warden Raymond Rosenberry said.

J.C. Penney Store Manager Dave Crider said the department store had to close during the outage. A mall spokeswoman said the building remained open, but most of the more than 60 stores had to close because cash registers and computers weren't operating.

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