Power restored to Duck Valley Reservation 7-07

BOISE, Idaho (AP)
- Two big generators have restored electricity to all 1,300 residents of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, ending nearly eight days in which this community of Shoshone and Paiute on the Idaho-Nevada border was without power due to wildfires that torched transmission lines and power poles.

The community was affected by the Murphy Complex fire burning in grass, sagebrush and pine trees.
The generators had to be trucked from Denver and Las Vegas by the Raft River Rural Electric Cooperative and were connected to Duck Valley's electricity network July 25. But it took another 12 hours before power reached everyone on the 450-square-mile reservation, Shoshone-Paiute Chairman Kyle Prior told The Associated Press.

"We're still telling people to conserve, and not to run things that people don't absolutely need," Prior said July 26.

While some buildings, including the tribal headquarters and 1970s-era hospital, had emergency power during the outage from stand-alone diesel generators, the hospital couldn't run its air conditioner amid temperatures approaching 100 degrees, Prior said.

The tribe is accustomed to power outages in the winter due to snow and ice disrupting aging transmission lines, but the chairman said the summer outage caught members unprepared. Ice had to be trucked in, many tribal members ate at the senior center and thousands of pounds of food spoiled.

"We learned a lot from this incident," Prior said, noting that tribal emergency plans dealt with such possibilities as a breach of Wild Horse Dam above the town or the crash of a military plane from Mountain Home Air Force Base.

Raft River Electric Rural Electric Cooperative said it lost as many as 40 power poles, in addition to the more than 160 lost by Idaho Power Co. Idaho Power had already restored most of its poles by Thursday, and Raft River officials said they've finally been able to begin repairs after getting clearance to enter the fire zone.

Terry Hutchison, Raft River line superintendent,said he didn't know how long it would take before normal electricity transmission to the tribe would be restored.