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Raccoon shuts down power for 3,000 in east Casper, Evansville

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Bev Farrow was driving to McDonalds on Casper’s east side for breakfast when she noticed the area had no power — McDonalds was closed and the traffic lights on the busy strip were flashing red.

She and her husband then drove to Johnny J’s diner in downtown Casper but found it packed with people who must have had the same idea. They finally got their breakfast at Hardees about a half hour after leaving the house.

“We ended up clear on the west side of the town to eat,” Farrow said.

For nearly seven hours Wednesday morning, about 2,800 customers were in the dark while Rocky Mountain Power crews repaired substation equipment damaged by a raccoon. All four of its circuits were affected.

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas said power was interrupted at 3:18 a.m. and restored to all customers at 10:05 a.m.

Animals occasionally stray into power substations, but the company doesn’t track how often, said Margaret Ohler, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power.

“It’s really hard to get animals to attend our safety demonstration,” she said.

Kathy Birkle, a resident of the 200 block of First Street in Evansville, said she noticed the electricity was out about 5:45 a.m. She babysits her four grandchildren and said the outage meant no hot meal and a coffee-less morning for her husband.

“The grandkids had to eat cereal instead of getting a hot breakfast, and our house is all electric, so it really affected everything,” she said.

Morning traffic slowed at the intersection of Wyoming Boulevard and East Second Street for its flashing red lights, and several gas stations along Wyoming Boulevard were vacant.

Neal Caterson, an employee at the Loaf ’N Jug on Curtis Street, said the 24-hour gas station employees had nothing to do but clean and stock the store.

“We had to close,” he said. “So we just had to take everything that was perishable, sandwich-wise, fresh food-wise, moved it to the cooler and the freezer.”

Computer Village Manager Don Lewis said the store lost a server used

for file sharing during

the outage.

“It was on a battery backup, but with the power being out for seven hours, the battery backup wasn’t enough,” he said.

Lewis was able to recover the files and transfer them to a backup machine. He said the store loses power about three to four times a year and it’s “more of an annoyance than anything.”

Cory Ulferts, general manager at pet store PetCo, also said outages seemed more common at his East Second Street location than customers reported farther northeast in Casper and Evansville. He said they were “lucky” this time, but it took five days to get the store server running after the last outage. All the

registers are electrically


The reptiles, fish and small animals at the store are not harmed by brief periods of electricity loss. Ulferts said if PetCo lost power long enough to cause great temperature changes or affect the animals’ health, they would be evacuated.

“It’s mostly that you’re out of business for the time that the electric’s down,” he said.

The last major power loss in Casper was May 19, when substation equipment failure lit up the morning sky and left 11,600 people without power for several hours.

Editor Darrell Ehrlick contributed to this story.

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or Follow her on Twitter @KellyByer.


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