Power back on after downtown Fort Mill fire

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 23, 2014 

— Electricity has been restored to the downtown Fort Mill area affected when a cement truck accidentally knocked down a power line Thursday morning.

Steve Mobley, owner of the Cutting Room of Fort Mill at 241 Main Street, said power came back on at his shop just after 2 p.m.

His building is just around the corner from Wild Homes, a residential builder on Clebourne Street that caught fire shortly after the Duke Energy power line, near the spot where a new parking lot is being constructed on Tom Hall Street in front of Hardee’s.

A Duke spokeswoman said the utility is certain it’s not responsible for the fire. Fort Mill Fire Chief Jeffrey Hooper said the cause is yet to be determined.

"Until we have a report back from the York County fire investigators, we can't say," Hooper said. "We'll have to see if it was related to that," he said, referring to the downed power line.

The Fort Mill Fire Department received the call about the fire at 11:14 a.m., town spokeswoman Kimberly Starnes said. The fire was under control by 12:23 p.m.

About 75 percent of the Wild Homes building was destroyed, according to town officials.

Duke spokeswoman Erin Culbert said 632 customers initially lost power at around 9:38 a.m. and it was restored at 11:30. However, a glitch caused power to go out again.

“When we re-energized the line, a bad connection on a circuit caused a wire to burn,” and power was lost, Culbert said. That second outage was repaired by 2 p.m., she said.

Starnes said the power outage “did not disrupt town functions” and that electricity never went out in Town Hall. The town’s public works building did lose power for a while, “but they were all out in the field so it didn’t disrupt anything,” Starnes said.

Most downtown shops were closed during the outage.

Diane Sykes of the Edward Jones office on Main Street said her office remained open even though the business couldn’t use its computer.

“I guess we don’t realize how much electricity we rely on for our business,” she said earlier in the afternoon. “Our computers were down, we can’t schedule appointments for customers. We had to cancel appointments because the adviser’s office doesn’t have a window, so it’s pitch black in there.”

But the phones were working, so the office stayed open “just in case, if someone calls,” Sykes said. “We do trading and we can talk to the back office, thankfully, but we need to be open when the market is open.”

PuckerButt Pepper Company also was open, despite the lack of electricity.

"We have our card reader, we just can't open the cash register," store manager Rachel Rogers said before power was restored.

Debbie Buchanan, owner of the H&R Block on Main Street, next door to the Cutting Room, said the outage impacted her business.

“We sent everybody home, transferred our phones to another line,” she said. Buchanan said seven clients’ appointments had to be re-scheduled “and we had two walk-ins come by” who had to be turned away because the tax preparers couldn’t use their computers.

Traffic was diverted around the fire scene early Thursday afternoon, but "roads are open again and there shouldn’t be any impact to rush hour,” Starnes said.

On lower Main Street, Amber Joy Eifler of United Artisans sat near her storefront’s window talking with a friend and arm-knitting a scarf.

“It seemed like a good use of time, to do something creative,” she said.

United Artisans during power outage

RAW VIDEO: Fire cleanup

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