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Originally published Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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More than 100,000 lose power; source of outage not yet determined

Power companies, including Puget Sound Energy and Orcas Power & Light, were scrambling Thursday evening to determine the source and extent of an outage that extended over several counties in Northwest Washington and affected more than 100,000 customers.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Power companies, including Puget Sound Energy and Orcas Power & Light, were scrambling Thursday evening to determine the source and extent of an outage that extended over several counties in Northwest Washington and affected more than 100,000 customers.

About the same time customers started reporting outages, a PSE transmission line was taken out of service for scheduled maintenance in the Anacortes area and the State Patrol was responding to a vehicle accident on Highway 20 west of Sedro-Woolley that damaged a power pole. All lanes of the highway were closed in both directions.

Customers reported power outages in parts of San Juan, Island, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.

A spokeswoman for Orcas Power & Light said outage reports were received just before 6:30 p.m. She said the source of the outage in San Juan County had not been identified.

Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said about 93,000 customers were without power in Skagit County and on Whidbey Island immediately after the Highway 20 accident about 4:30 p.m.

All of Whidbey Island was restored by 7:20 p.m., she said.

About 10,000 PSE customers in Skagit County were still without power late Thursday night, company spokeswoman Catherine Lenox said.

The outage also affected the Shell and Tesoro oil refineries near Anacortes, according to The Associated Press. Refinery spokesmen said their production equipment automatically shut down and began burning off oil products as it's designed to do, causing visible smoke and flame but no injuries or reports of spills into the environment. Power was restored to the refineries before 8 p.m.

"This seemed to be an unusual coincidence of events," said Bracken. She said crews were dispatched to replace the damaged power pole.

Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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