Power outage delays schools


For The Tribune

An early morning power outage in the North Vernon area caused Jennings County School Corp. to issue a two-hour delay for the start of classes Tuesday.

A power outage at 3:59 a.m. affected 1,370 Duke Energy customers, said Chip Orben, spokesman for the utility company. Multiple crews were called in to restore power, and power began being restored by about 6 a.m., he said.

It wasn’t until 11:33 a.m. that power was restored to the final 649 customers in the area of Scipio down to the intersections of state roads 7 and 3 at the northwest tip of North Vernon, Orben said.

Crews eventually discovered that strong winds had blown street light wires into power lines, causing fuses to trip, Orben said.

When classes resumed after the delay, Scipio Elementary was the only school in the district without power. The school went ahead with classes, setting up artificial lighting from generators in the hallways and classes, Jennings County Schools Superintendent Teresa Brown said. Sack lunches were prepared for the students, she said.

Scipio students who were kept home by their parents because of the outage will not be penalized, the superintendent said.

Second outage

The morning power outage followed an evening outage for about 800 North Vernon residents when the city’s fire department asked Duke Energy to shut down some of its power lines so it could get equipment to a fire, Orben said.

North Vernon Fire Department responded to a grass fire at 9 S. Jennings St., about a block west of North Vernon City Hall, at about 7:50 p.m. Strong winds caused the fire to spread to a two-story apartment unit, and spread further to two other buildings, North Vernon Fire Chief Michael Cole said.

The fire department asked Duke to turn power lines off so ladder trucks could get in position to battle the blaze, Cole said.

Firefighters wrapped up about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, the chief said.

The interior of the apartment unit was destroyed, two families were displaced and a dog died. The other two buildings — one with an upstairs apartment and downstairs tax office, the other a fireworks retail store — suffered some physical damage to back walls and smoke damage inside, Cole said.

The fire remains under investigation, the chief said.

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