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Two Friday afternoon single-vehicle accidents take out PG&E power poles in Sonoma

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A contractor driving a trailer load of building materials from a house on Patten Street struck a power pole on Fifth Street East in Sonoma on Jan. 24 a little after noon, severing the pole from its base and creating a power outage that lasted for hours.

The wooden pole was broken nearly in half, and was being held up by the PG&E power lines it carried. Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue responded to the scene and helped control traffic until PG&E repair crew arrived. There were no reported injuries.

“The outage originally impacted 120 customers but crews were able to restore (power to) most of them by 1:30 p.m.,” said Deanna Contreras, spokesperson for PG&E. Contreras said that 56 customers remain without power on Fourth Street East, Fifth Street East, Walnut Street and Van Damme Way that afternoon.

Witnesses said the truck was turning south onto Fifth Street East when it was forced to turn prematurely by northbound traffic. It was headed for a refuse station in Napa to dispose of materials from a house being demolished.

“The pole is broken and needs to be replaced, as well as the equipment on it,” said Contreras. "There is significant damage, so we are looking at safely restoring them at midnight, at the earliest.”

Shortly afterward, at about 1:20 p.m., another vehicle struck a power pole at Eighth Street East and Napa Street in Schellville. A Cadillac CT-6 northbound on Eighth St. East went off the road in the 19000 block and severed the power pole, and the driver sustained minor injuries. He was transported to Sonoma Valley Hospital for precautionary reasons, according to Lt. Marc Rensperger of the CHP.

Three electrical customers were affected by that accident, and PG&E crews were on the scene there to restore power. That pole too was broken and needed to be replaced, said Conteras.

At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, the California Highway Patrol shut down all traffic on Eighth St. E. between MacArthur and Napa Street so the power pole could be replaced.

The similarity of the incidents did not go unnoticed.

“Unfortunately, it’s an all-too common occurrence,” Contreras said. "There were approximately 41 vehicle accidents that caused power outages last year (2019) in Sonoma County alone."

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