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Power Outages Persist In Fire-Swept North-Central Washington

A view of a smoke plume from the Cougar Flat Fire from Liberty Bell High School south of Winthrop, Washington.

The lights are coming back on in fire-swept north-central Washington. A major transmission line was restored late last week, but not everyone has their power back.

As of Monday about 900 customers remain in the dark as a result of the state’s largest wildfire.

One of them, Margi Allen, is keeping her fridge cold and her stock tank full of water thanks to a donated generator. She cooks meals on the barbeque. And she’s getting inventive.

“I made Beef Stroganoff one night," she said. "I was quite proud of that.”

Allen lives in a now-charred valley north of Brewster, Washington. She and her husband barely got out before fire swept over their 58-acre hobby farm.

“Our home was saved, but we lost all of our out buildings,” Allen said.

But Allen’s not complaining.

“A lot of folks are struggling with a lot more loss than we are,” she said.

That’s why she can wait for the power to come back, but it might be another week.

The Okanogan County Public Utility District's Dan Boettger said in some places entire feeder lines have to be replaced.

“In some cases we’re building a couple of miles, even up to five miles of line to serve one or two customers,” he said.

Hundreds of power poles burned and Boettger said it could be two more weeks before everyone’s back on line.


Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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