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Heavy thunderstorms that raked the Los Alamos area Sunday afternoon and evening sent linemen with the Department of Utilities scrambling to restore power to some of the county's most populous neighborhoods.
A double circuit line, one of which serves the North Community west to Quemazon and the other which provides power to Barranca and North Mesas, was struck by lightning early Sunday evening leaving about 3,500 homes in the dark. Once the phase that failed was isolated, power was then rerouted temporarily from a Los Alamos National Laboratory circuit, according to Utility Manager John Arrowsmith. Power was out in those neighborhoods for about five hours.
Lightning also knocked a line down in the vicinity of Urban and 44th, a transformer was also struck and that resulted in multiple fuses in the system being blown. In all, Sunday proved to be a bad day for many power customers around Los Alamos.
Repairs to the double circuit line serving Barranca and North Mesas as well as the North Community and Quemanzon were being accomplished Monday morning. Arrowsmith said power would need to be interrupted to those areas for brief periods Monday as the repairs moved along. He also said this particular double circuit line is scheduled to be replaced with an upgraded configuration by next spring.
Los Alamos Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Sleik said that lightning struck a transformer shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday which over energized power lines causing some to snap. That resulted in rolling brown-outs in parts of the county. He indicated that the situation was exacerbated by fire alarms being triggered in numerous buildings around town.
When contacted to report the power outage Sunday evening, a county dispatcher said that much of Los Alamos was without power. "It's all over Los Alamos," she said.
Check back here for further updates as they become available throughout the day.