Power restored to 16K in the dark in Mesquite, other towns

Updated January 22, 2019 - 12:55 am

MESQUITE — A power line fire caused a blackout Monday morning that left five rural Clark County towns without electricity for most of the day and had crews working into the night to restore power.

NV Energy reported the fire, which started near Moapa, to Overton Power District 5 about 7:30 a.m., according to the district. NV Energy had to cut power to the line, leaving most of Mesquite, Logandale, Moapa, Overton and Bunkerville without power.

About 9:30 p.m. Monday, the power district posted on social media that power had “been restored to all customers affected.”

While most of Mesquite’s 16,000 customers were left in the dark Monday, the lights remained on at CasaBlanca Resort, where resident Karen Guy camped out near an outlet to recharge her oxygen tank’s battery.

Guy said her neighbor-turned-“guardian angel,” Linda Dodd, picked her up and drove her to the casino because Guy’s car was stuck in her garage. Employees at the Casablanca helped them find an outlet and brought them chairs, they said.

“You may not have the restaurant or the bathroom, but you’re going to have casinos,” Guy said. “So I knew I would be safe in needing an outlet to come over here.

“If you’re going to the bathroom, make sure you know where all your parts are, because it’s plenty dark in there.”

The origins of the fire weren’t immediately clear, district spokesman Keith Buchhalter said.

“We don’t know exactly what caused it because there weren’t any witnesses, but we do believe it was weather-related,” Buchhalter said.

Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said a review of the outage will come after power is fully restored.

Mesquite Mayor Allan Litman said the outage had darkened most of the city, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Arizona border.

“People can’t get into their communities because they can’t access the gate,” Litman said. “They can’t get their cars out of the garage. Residents need to be careful. The city is setting up emergency power for street lights, and all intersections are covered by police and police volunteers. … Fortunately, it’s a holiday, so there aren’t many people working today.”

Jeff Hoyt, who owns a strip mall and fitness center in Mesquite, said he found out about the outage via text message from Overton Power, which services the northeast quadrant of Clark County. The text was sent out about 8 a.m. and told residents to plan for “a prolonged power outage.”

The outage hurt businesses that were forced to close, he said, as well as those that could remain open.

“Everyone just presumes that everything’s closed,” Hoyt said.

The Animal Farm pet store, which is in Hoyt’s strip mall, remained open despite the loss of electricity.

Manager Brock Tobler said he was concerned that an extended outage could be harmful to the reptiles, which typically bask under heat lamps this time of year. He thought about moving them to the window but concluded that the overcast skies wouldn’t provide much extra warmth.

He said power was restored to the pet store about 4:40 p.m.

“Power’s back on and the animals are heating up, so I don’t have to take them home with me,” Tobler said.

Overton Power restored electricity Monday morning to Mesquite’s fire and police departments, Mesa View Regional Hospital, Walmart and the Flying J gas station. Residents flocked to Walmart and Flying J to stock up on essentials during the blackout.

Miguel Mejia, who’s lived in Mesquite for about 30 years, said he and his wife were buying food they could cook on their outdoor grill. Resident Carolyn Peters said she and her husband had plenty of food, but she bought a book and a propane lantern.

“I’ve got my book and my light, so it’s kind of like camping inside,” she said.

The Regional Transportation Commission warned motorists Monday morning that no services or fuel were available on a stretch of Interstate 15 north to Mesquite and along U.S. Highway 93 to Alamo.

The Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza, about 45 miles southwest of Mesquite, runs on diesel generators and was still open for business late in the morning.

“We usually see tourists. Now we’re getting a lot of locals,” said Steve Clement, a clerk at the shop, which had vehicles at every pump in its gas station.

Not every station was open, though.

Tara Wolfey and her neighbors brought all the gas they could spare to an Arco station in Glendale, about 32 miles southwest of Mesquite. They gave fretful motorists enough gas to make it to the Paiute station.

“We pretty much had our indicator light on for the last 20 miles,” said Dan Vakili, who was heading toward Vegas from St. George. “We’re very thankful that some kind folks were able to help us out.”

Vakili said he didn’t think twice about making it to Las Vegas with less than a full tank of gas.

“We were regretting that we didn’t fill up our tank before we left because we could have g0tten all the way,” he said. “But you don’t think about that. You think there’s plenty of gas stations along the way.”

Vakili’s dog, Morty, shifted around in the back of his hatchback while Glendale’s good Samaritans helped fill the tank.

“We’re glad that we have it,” Wolfey said. “Glad we could help.”

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter. Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter. Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0298. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Shea Johnson contributed to this report.

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