Wandering raccoon blamed for outage, fire

From Local Sources

CELESTINE — A raccoon is being blamed for triggering a Tuesday night power outage in eastern Dubois County, as well as a run by the Celestine Volunteer Fire Department.

Units of the Celestine Volunteer Fire Department were called at 10:06 p.m. to the report of sparking and fire at the Buechler substation at 535 S. 1025E.

Dubois Rural Electric Cooperative Manager of Operations Pat Lichlyter said it is believed a raccoon on electrical buswork resulted in one of the high-side fuses owned by Hoosier Energy blowing inside the fenced substation east of Celestine, just north of State Road 164.

Lichlyter said that initially caused a brownout, with lights dimming at many locations. Then, he added, another Hoosier Energy high-side fuse blew, taking out the substation.

The outage affected the Celestine, Schnellville, Birdseye, Patoka Lake, Woodland Hills and Wickliffe areas.

Insulation around the buswork also caught fire, Lichlyter said.

“We had multiple issues there and that little critter caused a lot of it,” Lichlyter said.

Dubois REC linemen switched loads around on the system to provide power until Hoosier Energy could make substation repairs.

Celestine fire trucks provided lighting during those operations.

Fire Chief Ryan Wineinger said three trucks and 21 firefighters responded, with trucks kept at the scene for an hour. During the response, Wineinger said, a Hoosier Energy lineman showed him a picture of the raccoon thought to have triggered the problems inside the substation site.

Dubois REC’s load-switching work restored power to most affected customers within 90 minutes. Hoosier Energy finished making repairs at about 3 a.m. today.

Lichlyter and another REC lineman were heading to the site this morning to switch loads back onto the repaired substation.

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