Underground Burning Wire Complicates Ridge Road Power Restoration
Nearly 5,900 in Mahwah remain without power Friday; O&R says it cannot pinpoint a recovery time
A continuously-burning underground cable that is melting the asphalt on Ridge Road may delay power restoration to the many homes around the roadway, as well as to four of the township’s six schools, the library, and other buildings and businesses on and around Ridge Road.
Orange & Rockland discussed the situation with Mahwah officials in a conference call Thursday afternoon.
While the underground cable is not on fire, it is burning, letting off a tremendous amount of heat, and has started buckling the roadway, officials said. O&R has stationed a public safety officer at the scene to make sure no residents come in contact with the burning wire.
Though the utility could not provide a timetable for when the issue would be addressed, township officials said they have stressed its importance to O&R.
“It is a priority for them,” Mayor Bill Laforet said. “They know it’s a big deal, but we don’t have a timeline yet. It could potentially be a tremendous undertaking to fix this cable.”
O&R spokesperson Maria Pollard said the utility is working repairs like this into their ongoing power restoration efforts. “The issue with underground wire situations like this is they are often wet, get very hot, and this is probably a primary line,” she said. Until O&R can get a crew to fully assess and fix the problem, “we have a public safety officer there to make sure everyone is safe.”
Pollard said she could not provide much more specific detail about Ridge Road, but did say the utility has brought in hundreds of extra crews working overtime to address this and all of its other power outages.
“After the storm, we had 230,000 customers out of power. To give you some perspective, we only serve 300,000 – so that was 80 percent of our customer base,” Pollard said. “I’ve been here 12 years, and I’ve never seen as large a number of outages or the amount of destruction as we’ve seen with this storm."
Slowly, Mahwah residents have been getting power back. After Hurricane Sandy, over 9,000 in the township were without power. Friday morning, O&R reported 5,896 customers in Mahwah remained without power.
However, Pollard said an exact timeline for when the remaining outages would be rectified isn’t possible.
“We know our customers’ patience is wearing thin,” she said. “But, we are progressing by where the circuits are, the damage, the resources we have and the number of people affected [by the outage],” she explained. “People would like to hear a date when we’ll be in their town, but unfortunately, we’re not at the point where we can give out information like that.”
O&R hopes to have its entire system up and running again by Nov. 11, she said.
Mahwah school district officials were not immediately available Thursday to comment on how the burning wire and outage at Ridge Road may affect school going back into session.
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