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Power outage cripples Park Rapids Saturday morning

Walmart's parking lot was deserted on a Saturday morning, a rare event. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 3
This power pole on Highway 34 outside Charlie's Boats & Marine was the culprit of a major power outage Saturday morning in Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 3
Lineman Tim Schwartz of Minn-Kota Power was working to restore power in Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)3 / 3

A 90-minute power outage brought most of Park Rapids to its knees Saturday morning.

Power went off before 10 a.m. near Charlie’s Boats & Marine when some insulators on the pole off Highway 34 cracked.

"We saw the pole sizzling and fizzing and then it just popped,” said proprietor Charlie Kellner. Flames shot out of the top.

That pop took out power to major retailers like L&M Fleet Farm, Walmart, Delaney’s Sports Center, at least two convenience stores and the city’s municipal liquor store. Power was only partially restored by 11:10.

Minnesota Power lineman Tim Schwartz was first on the scene. He said the cracked insulators were the culprit. He was working to gradually restore power segment by segment.

“Most of Park Rapids is out except downtown,” he said.

“I just can’t believe this,” Kellner said as he plowed out his lot. “This is the second time we’ve taken out the whole town. At our last building someone backed into a pole and the whole town went out, that time.”

Schwartz couldn’t say if the outage was weather-related. He said it was probably more likely that the insulators had cracked becaused of lightning or wear and tear. Then the snow covered the cross-arm, setting up a scenario where the wet insulators fizzled.                 

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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