More than 2,770 Central Maine Power Co. customers were without electrical power Thursday afternoon in the Skowhegan area, setting off alarms at area schools and businesses and briefly shutting down internet service. Gail Rice, at CMP offices, said power was out in Skowhegan, Fairfield, Norridgewock and Smithfield.

She said an insulator at a CMP substation on West Front Street in Skowhegan malfunctioned, causing the outage. Power was back up by 2:20 p.m.

At its peak just after 1 p.m. Thursday, 1,137 CMP customers were without power in Skowhegan, according to the company’s outage information Web page. In Fairfield, 71 customers were darkened, with 813 in Norridgewock and 504 in Smithfield.

Rice could not confirm social media reports that a transformer station on West Front Street “fried a squirrel” and knocked out power.

“I didn’t have any information about an animal contact,” Rice said. “What we had for a cause was an equipment failure in the south side substation in Skowhegan. It was an insulator failure in the substation that caused the outage. Our equipment is exposed to the elements 24/7 and it can suffer wear and tear. We got it back on in an hour and 20 minutes.”

Mike Smith, the emergency management director for Somerset County, said the power outage shut off traffic lights in Norridgewock and all along the U.S. Route 2 corridor. He said the widespread outage was not caused by a motor vehicle accident, but police and firefighters were sent to control traffic at locations when traffic lights went down.

“It affected a pretty good-size area,” Smith said.

Brent Colbry, superintendent for Skowhegan-based School Administrative District 54, said the high school, the middle school, Bloomfield Elementary, the Marti Stevens Learning Center and his offices all lost power.

“It was just on this side of the river. It didn’t affect the other schools,” Colbry said by cellphone at 3 p.m. because the central office lines were not back in service. “Kids just stayed in place. We posted people in the hallways to make sure somebody was there to help anybody that needed to go to the bathroom or anything. We just stayed in place. Power came back about 2:15. We talked to CMP through the whole thing.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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