Transformer blows, causes power outage in Martinsburg

August 23, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A transformer that failed Wednesday afternoon at Allegheny Power's Martinsburg substation caused a utility service outage that affected about 1,700 customers for several hours, a company spokesman said.

The failure first was reported to Allegheny Power at 1:18 p.m., and spokesman David Neurohr said "everybody was back on" by 4:30 p.m.

The transformer failed because of a fault in another piece of equipment, causing a chain reaction, Neurohr said.

The outage appeared to affect multiple blocks of King and John streets, but Neurohr could not specify the exact area.

The City of Martinsburg had stop signs placed at downtown intersections where traffic signals were not working.

Security personnel in the lobby of the federal courthouse building at 217 W. King St. said access was "limited" because of the outage.

Though it didn't affect the electricity supply to the courthouse and annex, deputy clerks for Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small Jr. said their computer systems were disabled by the power failure.


"If someone wants to register (to vote), we'll hand type the card," said Bonnie Woodfall, Small's deputy clerk for voter registration. "We can make do. We've done it before."

The outage also prompted the closure of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library at the intersection of Queen and King streets.

A sign on the front door instructed individuals who were planning to take part in GED testing at the library to contact the Berkeley County Schools Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education.

LaDonna Green, co-owner of All American Cleaning LLC, said she was scrubbing a bathroom at the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle's community support center at 214 W. King St. when the lights went out.

"I was cleaning the bathrooms and I (first) thought they we're playing a trick on me," Green said.

Green said she and her business partner were able to finish their work at the office by sweeping "the old-fashioned way," but otherwise were stymied to render services by the lack of power.

Kim Stracka, an imaging clerk with Docutex Inc. at 224 W. King St., had plenty of time to smoke a cigarette.

"We're on a break until the power comes on," said Stracka, who along with five co-workers watched motorists clumsily navigate the intersection of King Street and Maple Avenue without a stoplight to help them.

"We don't mind this extra little break ..." Stracka said.

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