Kim Whalen sent KRBD radio in Ketchikan this photo of downed power lines in the Ward Cove area.

Kim Whalen sent KRBD radio in Ketchikan this photo of downed power lines in the Ward Cove area.

A tree took out power lines in Ketchikan’s Ward Cove area Tuesday morning, affecting power throughout Ketchikan and the Southeast Alaska Power Agency system.

KPU Electric Division Manager Andy Donato said the tree came down just a few minutes before 7 a.m., and wiped out three spans of power lines. The tree also blocked traffic temporarily.

Donato said crews responded and cleared the tree for traffic to resume. Crews now are working to restore power to various portions of the Ketchikan electric system.

The Ward Cove area, though, will take a while.

“Unfortunately, that’s going to be out of service probably the remainder of the day as we chip away and repair all that,” he said. “We’ve lost about three spans worth of lines. Those lines include the very highest ones there, which are the 115KV lines from SEAPA and then the subtransmission and distribution lines below those. Most of those got wiped out by this tree.”

Because the tree took out the Southeast Alaska Power Agency lines, the outage traveled all the way to Petersburg. That community lost its feed from Tyee Lake, and then had some trouble with its backup generators. Petersburg’s outage lasted about two hours.

Wrangell lost power for a short time, as well.

Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell are connected through SEAPA via an intertie News Tilethat allows power to flow between Swan Lake and Tyee Lake. Swan Lake provides power primarily to Ketchikan, and Tyee mostly serves Petersburg and Wrangell.

The intertie allows SEAPA to use power from both lakes more efficiently. But, Donato said, there’s sometimes a downside.

“That’s the unfortunate part of an interconnected system, right? You end up with a phenomenon that rocks the boat at Beaver Falls and you end up tripping them off in Petersburg,” he said.

Donato didn’t yet have an estimate on how long the repairs would take in the Ward Lake area. We’ll have an update later today.