East Spencer power surge causes outages, closes school office

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2013

EAST SPENCER — A power surge led to outages throughout East Spencer and some of Spencer this afternoon.
The surge occurred between 2 and 2:30 p.m. today in East Spencer, at the same time as a downed power line was reported at the intersection of North Long and West Pinetree streets.
Rita Foil, public information officer for the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said the surge affected six or seven breaker boxes at the school system’s Long Street administrative office. Staff members had to evacuate the building.
“Duke Power said it will probably be several hours before they can get there to restore power,” Foil said. “Then, the fire chief recommended that RSS maintenance staff do a check to see if everything is back and working properly.”
She said this afternoon that it’s not clear whether the building would be operational by Friday morning.
The surge also caused power to “blink” at North Rowan High School in Spencer and sounded its fire alarm. Foil said the school conducted a practice fire drill and continued the day as normal.
Local fire officials said full power was restored to their own buildings around 4:30 p.m. today, once the fallen line was repaired.
But as of 5:30 p.m., Duke Energy reported that 830 of its Rowan County customers were still without electricity — mostly in the East Spencer area. It’s not clear how many were affected by the outage at its peak.
Capt. Joshua Wyatt with the East Spencer Fire Department said he is waiting on Duke Energy to determine whether the downed power line caused the surge.
“It could be heard in the fire department as well as other neighboring buildings,” Wyatt said. “There were sparks throughout the electrical system.”
A Spencer resident also reported just after the surge that a DVD player had started smoking.
Spencer fire officials said the town lost power at its fire station for about two hours, but a generator kept basic operations running.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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