More than 900 people in southwest Minnesota were temporarily without electricity on Thursday after a utility pole in Tracy caught fire.
Patti Nystuen, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy, said a fire on a utility pole near the intersection of South Street and Center Street in Tracy at about 9:35 a.m. caused a power outage for 915 customers in the Tracy, Currie and Garvin areas. Nystuen said Xcel was able to restore power to about 665 customers, while about 250 others had to wait until the utility pole was replaced early Thursday afternoon.
Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty said the Tracy Fire Department closed off the intersection near the utility pole until the fire could be put out and the pole taken down. He said the power outage didn't affect downtown Tracy, but darkened areas closer to the edge of town. Tracy Area Public Schools and Sanford Tracy Medical Center were both affected by the power outage.
Lori Hebig, marketing and community relations manager at Sanford Tracy, said the medical center did have some power, but arrangements were made to transfer any emergency-room patients to the Marshall ER. Fortunately, she said, there were no emergency patients during the time the power was out, and the Tracy ER re-opened at 1:45 p.m., after power was restored. Meanwhile, patients at the Sanford Tracy clinic were moved into the hospital, which had some electricity, or went to Sanford's Walnut Grove facility, Hebig said.
At Tracy Area High School, staff and students moved into hallways and other areas where there was natural light until power was restored, said Tracy Superintendent Loy Woelber. Tracy Elementary Principal Tracey Olson said the power outage interrupted both computerized MCA tests and school photos. The MCA tests were rescheduled for today, and students spent time reading or doing quiet activities until electricity was restored, Olson said.