Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 20, 2013
Fire takes out power at Dugway

The wildfire that destroyed property in Willow Springs and forced the evacuation of that community and Terra on Friday also severed power to Dugway Proving Ground.

Except for areas that are being powered by generators, many parts of the vast military base are still in the dark.

The power went out at 3:42 p.m. Friday after the Patch Springs fire burned 12 transmission lines that carry electricity to Dugway, according to Margaret Oler, public relations officer for Rocky Mountain Power.

“We have to rebuild that line,” she said. “The old ones have to be taken out and new ones put in and then they have to restring the wire.”

Transmission lines bring large quantities of electricity into a geographical region, which are then carried out to smaller areas through distribution lines. Having a dozen transmission structures damaged at one time is significant, said Oler.

“It’s kind of like a big pipe carrying water into a town and little pipes carrying it to various parts of town,” she said. “Until that transmission line is back up and fully operational, nothing down stream can receive the power.”

Rebuilding the structures is expected to take until midweek.

In the mean time, Paula Thomas, public affairs officer for Dugway, said the base is still carrying on its mission. English Village, the residential community within the base, has been obtaining power from the Dugway Power Plant, while some buildings in the test area have generators supplying power to allow work to carry on.

“We can test, but we can’t test with live agent without our regular power supply,” she said. “So we’re trying to see if we can redistribute power to some areas in the test center and shut it down in other areas like English Village.”

Some employees worked from home Monday due to lack of air conditioning in buildings. But beyond that, Thomas said the base is built to handle situations like these and work will go on as planned.

“We are trying our hardest to do our mission and making sure that buildings we consider to be the most critical are supplied with some type of power,” she said.

Another 745 customers in Skull Valley and surrounding areas lost power Friday evening, but power crews were able to restore that power to all but Dugway and Willow Springs by Saturday morning.

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