A number of weather-related and other accidents plagued the Central Kenai Peninsula Tuesday and kept emergency responders busy through the evening.
To start the day, about 2,200 Homer Electric Association members were without power for about five hours during an outage that stretched from the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kalifornsky Beach Road to the Red Diamond Center in Soldotna. The power loss began around 3:30 a.m. and power was restored to all members by 8:30 a.m., said Director of Member Relations Joe Gallagher. About half of the HEA members affected by the outage had their power restored by 7:30 a.m., he said.
“We had a tree on a power line actually in two spots on K-Beach Road,” Gallagher said. “The heavy, wet snow is really rough on our system.”
A wire also fell along K-Beach Road, so HEA personnel responded to three separate spots in the affected area. Gallagher said no other outages were reported and the best way to prepare for them is to continue year-long clearing of HEA’s right-of-ways or making sure trees are not endangering the power lines.
An HEA power pole at the intersection of Marydale Avenue and the Kenai Spur Highway caught fire later in the day after a wire separated from the pole. Central Emergency Services responded to the pole at 2:57 p.m., and a Kenai Fire Department engine with two responders was called out as a mutual aid response to CES at 3:09 p.m., said Kenai Fire Chief Jeff Tucker.
Three trucks carrying three HEA crew members arrived at the scene at about 4:30 p.m. Gallagher said a total of six linemen responded to the accident.
“The wire burned the cross arm on the pole and our crew will have to replace that cross arm,” Gallagher wrote in an email. “In order to do that work, we have de-energized power to 28 meters in that area while we do the repair work. The repairs will probably take about three hours to complete.”
Gallagher said it is still unclear what caused the line to separate from the connection on the power pole.
Marydale Avenue was clear as of 4:07 p.m.
Central Emergency Services personnel responded to 10 calls throughout the day starting at 8 a.m. In all, they transported 10 people to Central Peninsula Hospital for what Captain Terry Bookey said appeared at the time to be non-life threatening injuries.
One accident that resulted in a ride to the hospital took place at mile 15 of Kalifornski-Beach Road at approximately 4:47 p.m., Bookey said. A single vehicle slid off the road into a ditch, and Bookey said two people were brought to the hospital. CES personnel were then called to Mackey Lake Road at 5:22 p.m., where eight people had to be taken to the hospital following a T-bone accident, Bookey said.
While none of Tuesday’s injuries appeared life threatening, Bookey said some of them were serious. This many calls in a day is not unusual for CES, Bookey said.
The Kenai Police Department saw its fair share of action Tuesday when it responded to a single-vehicle rollover at mile 8 of the Kenai Spur Highway just after 4 p.m. A grey Nissan truck was turned on its left side in the southbound lane of the highway after hitting the guard rail.
“There were multiple bystanders that … came to the aid of the driver and prevented the vehicle from completely rolling over,” said Sgt. Ben Langham.
Langham said the female driver and sole occupant lost control of her truck because of “presumably slick roads.” She was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital to be treated for unknown injuries by a Kenai Fire Department ambulance around 5 p.m., according to firefighter Scott Summers.
Kenai officers redirected traffic, and the highway was first completely closed, then opened up to one lane once the driver was in an ambulance, said Sgt. Jay Sjogren. That section of the highway was completely open again by 7 p.m.
Langham said several Kenai Police Department officers had just gotten done training at the nearby shooting range when the call for the rollover came in and were able to respond quickly.
Wildlife also took a hit on Tuesday. Kenai resident Lila Green struck a young moose at mile 3 of the Kenai Spur Highway just before 7 p.m. Green was heading toward Kenai from Soldotna when she said the calf crossed on front of her from the other lane.
“It came right out in front of me,” Green said. “It was too late to stop.”
Sgt. Ronny Simmons of the Alaska State Troopers had to put the calf down when he got to the scene, as it could not walk. Green was able to drive her car from the scene.
Laurie Speakman, volunteer salvage truck driver for the Alaska Moose Federation, said she got the call to collect that calf at 6:51 p.m. She then got a call at 7:27 p.m. for another calf just down the road at mile 6 of the Spur.