Cumberland Times-News

January 7, 2014

Arctic blast disrupts electrical service; volunteers brave frigid temperatures battling structure fires

Jeffrey Alderton
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The life-threatening deep freeze gripping much of the nation and all the tri-state region caused power outages in sections of Mineral County early Tuesday, according to the Mineral County 911 center.

“We have reports of up to 1,500 customers out of service in the Keyser, Ridgeville, Fountain, Headsville and Elk Garden areas that began at about 3 a.m.,” said a Mineral County 911 dispatcher.

Transformer problems created the outages in Fountain and Headsville and lines down in Elk Garden disrupted electrical service there. The downed lines in the area of Feathers Lane and Nethkin Mill Road also caused a brush fire that was handled by the Elk Garden Volunteer Fire Department.

Units were on the call for more than an hour when temperatures remained well below zero with wind chill readings in the minus 30-40 degree range.

Potomac Edison crews on storm alert responded to the affected areas to begin repairs and restore service as quickly as possible.

The outage in the Keyser region stemmed from a tree that fell and took out five spans of electrical wire. Crews from Potomac Edison at Cumberland and Fort Ashby responded to the overnight incident.

In Allegany County, an accidental fire in a residence at 516 A St. in LaVale brought numerous volunteer fire companies out late Monday night.

No injuries were reported in the 9:32 p.m. fire that was caused by faulty electrical wiring in a wall that ignited a couch in the living room of the two-story dwelling, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Damages to the property of Amy Shirey were estimated at $30,000 to the structure and $20,000 to its contents. Shirey was being assisted by family members, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Ryan Chapman.

No smoke alarms were found in the residence, according to the fire marshal’s office.

LaVale, Corriganville, El-lerslie, Bowling Green, Mount Savage, Frostburg, Cresaptown and Midland volunteer fire departments responded along with the LaVale Rescue Squad.

The State Highway Ad-ministration, Potomac Edison and  Columbia Gas also responded.

In Garrett County, a structure fire was reported to the Garrett County 911 center at 1:34 a.m. Tuesday at the Table Rock Bar at 4676 George Washington Highway, according to the county’s emergency center.

First-arriving firefighters reported a “working fire” that was quickly brought under control.

Gorman, Aurora, Oakland, Bayard, Mount Storm, Deer Park and Deep Creek volunteer fire departments responded along with Southern Garrett Rescue Squad, State Highway Administration and Potomac Edison personnel.

A warming center was set up in Mineral County at 6 p.m. Monday at the Trinity United Methodist Church on Jones Street in Piedmont. The center was staffed by church volunteers to provide temporary shelter for local residents.

A warming center in Allegany County at the county fairgrounds multipurpose building on Moss Avenue operated for 24 hours beginning late Monday afternoon.

Bedford County Emergency Services placed several warming centers on standby Monday to accommodate anyone without electrical service and heat.

A warming center was also operating in Petersburg, W.Va., at 739 North Fork Highway, according to the Grant County Office of Emergency Services.

Schools throughout the region were canceled Tuesday by the extreme cold, including classes at Frostburg State University.

The frigid temperatures prompted the Maryland Public Service Commission to urge consumers to conserve electricity to help offset the high demand brought on by the cold temperatures.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at