Downtown explosion results in power outage, school lockout

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    By Terri House

    Staff Writer

    A downtown explosion just before noon on April 8 resulted in a power outage to area businesses and a lockout situation at Pagosa Springs Middle School.

    The explosion was the result of a blown arrester in the alley of the 400 block of Pagosa Street.

    “Yesterday at 11:52 a.m. there was a blown arrester and fuse on Pagosa Street. It caused an outage to 6 meters and was restored by 1:45 p.m. The LPEA crew was unable to find an immediate cause,” wrote La Plata Electric Association spokesperson Hillary Knox in an April 9 email to The SUN. “This is quite common, as damage over time (like lightning strikes for example) can add up, eventually causing them to fail.

    “As a little background, arresters are typically installed near critical electric infrastructure like transformers. When lightning strikes, or any other situation occurs that causes the system to take on too much voltage, the arrester activates and diverts the excess energy so it can disperse harmlessly. The fuse will often pop open as well, to stop the flow of electricity and this is the loud popping you may have heard.”

    Due to the sound of the explosion, Pagosa Springs Middle School went on lockout status out of an abundance of caution.

    “Anytime we see or hear a potential threat to our students, we err on the side of caution, which is why Mr. Hinger made the decision to lock-out,” wrote Archuleta School District Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc-Esparza in an email to The SUN on April 9. “As we all know the origin now, we know that our students were not in any danger. We are grateful for the fact that they were not in danger, and for the opportunity to practice our safety drills and protocols. Our students and staff did exactly what we have prepared them to do in a lock-out situation.”

    According to Knox, “While those things can look and sound scary, there were no safety concerns. The equipment was operating as designed.”