Service isn’t expected to be restored until today for residents in east, downtown and south central Lawton who were affected by a Public Service Company of Oklahoma power outage.
A fire at a substation in southeast Lawton led to a massive outage that directly affected more than 23,000 Lawton-area customers. But steps to remedy the situation brought affected customers to more than 26,000 in Lawton by mid-afternoon, as controlled outages for west Lawton neighborhoods were used to help control instability in the power system, said Wayne Greene, region communications manager for PSO.
While initial suspicions were that a lightning strike caused the fire, Greene said late Wednesday that PSO investigations still hadn’t identified the cause of the fire. PSO issued a statement Wednesday morning saying its teams were assessing the situation to determine the cause, and couldn’t begin restoring power until they could safely enter the substation and assess the damage.
PSO began robocalls late afternoon Wednesday, telling customers that the original Lawton outage areas weren’t expected to receive power until Thursday. In the meantime, areas of Lawton with power could expect controlled outages, which would stop when the system was stabilized, Greene said.
Greene said PSO is asking residents who have electricity to conserve power so that repairs can be made faster. PSO is asking residents not to run their washers and dryers if they don’t have to.
While there were scattered areas of outages in west Lawton, the concentration of power disruptions were centered on east Lawton, in downtown Lawton and in south central Lawton. However, the residential area south of West Gore Boulevard, west of Southwest 45th Street, also was among the original areas that lost power at 5:11 a.m.
In addition, Elgin, Fletcher, Sterling, Cement and areas near Lake Ellsworth also were affected, although power to those areas was restored by 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The widespread nature of the outages, coupled with the controlled outages, forced the City of Lawton to make some adjustments, including warning drivers they should treat all intersections — including those on arterials — as four-way stops because of numerous inoperable traffic lights.
Lawton City Hall was without power Wednesday, although city officials made adjustments to keep departments such as utility services (the water department) and license and permits open. The Lawton Public Safety Center also was without power, although emergency generators allowed some functions, including municipal court, to remain open.
Lawton Public Schools announced late Wednesday that it planned to return to classes at schools that have power today. Parents will be notified via text message by 6 a.m. today about their school’s status.