Update: Power outage hits 15,000 customers in Pittsfield, nearby towns


PITTSFIELD -- More than half of Pittsfield, as well as most of Richmond and Hancock, lost power for about an hour Friday morning, sending emergency crews scrambling.

No serious incidents were reported as a result of the incident.

About 11:15 a.m., power was lost to about 15,000 customers due to a problem with the Oswald substation off West Housatonic Street, according to the Western Massachusetts Electric Co.

WMECO spokeswoman Priscilla Ress said staff is investigating what triggered a breaker system at the substation to shut down the relay of power.

"We checked the equipment and the equipment is fine," Ress said. "As much as we hate to see people [left] without power, it also shows the system works as it was designed."

Power was completely restored by 12:14 p.m., she said.

About 60 percent of Pittsfield customers were blacked out, including neighborhoods from West Street to Springside Avenue, and parts of Elm Street to Pecks Road. The police department, courthouse and Big Y Supermarket also were among those affected. Outages also were reported in Lanesborough, Lenox, Savoy and Washington.

Members of the Pittsfield Police and Fire Departments were out in full force, as the outage temporarily disrupted traffic signals, set off emergency alarms and trapped people in elevators.

Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said about 20 to 30 more phone calls than average came within 45 minutes. The Pittsfield Police Department and Berkshire County Dispatch said there was no abnormal activity during the outage.

There were "five or six" people trapped in elevators at the Pittsfield Family YMCA, Berkshire Community College and other locations.

"People got out, no medical conditions, no one needed transport to the hospital," Czerwinski said. Firefighters also dealt with their own problems trying to respond to calls. They had to manually open the heavy fire department garage doors because the electric motor failed.

Firefighters also communicated using a backup radio signal because radio amplifiers, or repeaters, throughout the city failed without electric power. The Fire Department phone lines also were down.

Berkshire Medical Center was without power momentarily before a secondary power source kicked in, according to BMC spokesman Michael Leary. He said patient care was not affected.

Power was lost at ancillary BMC sites on North Street, the Hillcrest Campus, and an office on South Church Street. However, the facilities resumed operations after power was restored.


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