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Downed power lines knock out power for nearly 6,000 Pacific Power customers

Thousands of Pacific Power customers in the Gold Hill area west to Grants Pass lost power Monday morning due to downed power lines that also sparked multiple fires along Highway 99.

At 5:29 a.m., multiple fire agencies, including Rural Metro Fire, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and the Oregon Department of Forestry responded to the 3100 block of Rogue River Highway for an incident initially reported as a structure fire. They arrived to find the downed lines sparking multiple small brush fires.

Rural Metro division chief Austin Prince estimated about 200 yards of power lines had fallen. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

“It just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” Prince said, adding the scene was much different than similar scenes he’s responded to where a vehicle toppled a single pole. “This was several power lines knocked down.”

The fires were small and mostly putting off a moderate amount of smoke due to the morning dew and green condition of the vegetation.

“It was basically forced fire on the vegetation, because the vegetation itself was relatively green right through there,” Prince said. “(It) just basically put off a lot of smoke and [was] arcing.”

Rogue River Highway east of Grants Pass was temporarily shut down, both for the safety of drivers and “to prevent well-intended civilians from stopping to throw dirt on the burning power lines,” the post read.

Firefighters monitored the area around nearby homes until Pacific Power shut down the electricity. One downed line was reported at Rock Point Bridge near Gold Hill, according to an Oregon Department of Transportation news release. The line has since been moved and the stretch of road has reopened, the release said.

Just before 9 a.m., 3,015 customers were without electricity between Gold Hill and Rogue River, according to the public utility company’s website. An additional 2,897 lacked power in Grants Pass.

Most customers had their power restored by 2 p.m., the Pacific Power website showed.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPfeil.