January 21, 2013

1,103 lose power when excavator breaks Fairfield utility poles

Construction crews at Gerald Hotel take out two poles in 1:30 p.m. Monday mishap

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

Central Maine Power Co. workers repair a broken pole behind the Fairfield municipal building on Monday. The pole, and another one behind the former Gerald Hotel, which is undergoing renovations, caused a power outage to 1,103 area customers.

Staff photo by David Leaming

FAIRFIELD — Construction workers at the former Gerald Hotel renovation project accidentally caused a power outage when an excavator snapped off two utility poles Monday afternoon.

A Central Maine Power Co. dispatcher said the outage affected 1,103 customers, mostly in Fairfield. A small number of Skowhegan and Clinton residents also were affected by the outage, which lasted less than an hour.

Homer Salisbury, site supervisor for Sheridan Construction, said that the accident happened about 1:30 p.m. while his crew was doing excavation work to create a foundation under the meeting house, a building behind the Gerald Hotel.

The excavator hit a phone box, which was attached to some power cables that flattened one utility pole and snapped a second pole in two. No one was hurt in the incident and there was no property damage other than the utility equipment, Salisbury said.

A power company crew restored power to customers before replacing the utility poles, a project that Salisbury said was well under way by 2:45 p.m.

Salisbury said renovation of the hotel into 28 units for low-income seniors is proceeding on schedule.

“We were doing really well until today,” he said, “but sometimes accidents happen. That’s why they call them accidents.”

Even during the power outage, the crew was able to continue work using temporary power backup the company provided on site, Salisbury said.

The size of the workforce at the hotel has grown to about 18 Sheridan employees and several contractors, up from a beginning crew of just eight workers. 

The $4 million project is expected to continue into the summer, with residents moving onto the property in the fall.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

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