Heavy winds responsible for damage across Silver Valley

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Crews from Shoshone County Fire District No. 2 responded to a fallen tree that collapsed onto nearby power lines, causing a minor fire. Photo courtesy of WEST SHOSHONE FIREFIGHTERS IAFF L2034

The Silver Valley is no stranger to winter season conditions like snow, rain, fog and many others. What doesn’t happen here very often though is wind.

It seemed that Mother Nature wanted to change it up a bit last Saturday because the local area experienced wind gusts up to 50 mph that caused all sorts of havoc.

According to the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, 911 dispatch received more than 12 calls for service related to the extreme weather.

“During the wind storm last Saturday, our county deputies responded to various types of calls for service, such as fires, hazardous power lines and fallen trees,” said SCSO Undersheriff Holly Lindsey. “During storms like this, we receive an extremely high call volume through our emergency dispatching center and it usually causes our office to work at our max capacity. Dispatchers end up taking one emergency call after another and deputies end up jumping from one emergency call to the next.”

While broken light poles and blown-away garbage cans were a common sight, major incidents such as downed power lines and trees were also numerous.

Shoshone County Fire District No. 2 alone responded to six different calls for service involving downed power lines. One incident in particular had crews putting out a small fire in Pinehurst when tree limbs collapsed on nearby power lines. Due to the added weight, those lines eventually collapsed on top of a vehicle parker underneath.

Shoshone County Fire District No. 1 also had their own electricity related call in the Sunny Slopes area of Osburn after winds caused power lines to fall into several backyards. While no fire resulted from the incident, Avista reported that roughly 100 homes were left without power for an extended time.

When power lines do fall or become exposed such as what happened on Saturday, it is imperative that residents avoid the area and call 911. In those situations, 911 dispatch notifies Avista to send repair crews to the location and shut off the power.

County road crews were also kept busy as reports of downed trees blocking traffic were coming in everywhere from Interstate 90 to Dobson Pass.

One large tree located just north of Dave Smith Motors had to be cut down before it toppled over on its own and caused damage to the nearby area.

Thankfully, no major injuries were reported due to the weather.

When it comes to avoiding damage during a weather event such as this one, Lindsey reminds residents that it’s all about preparation.

“Even though predicting the behavior of a storm isn’t an exact science, we can take precautionary measures in advance of the storm to prepare for what might happen. All of us can contribute to reducing call volume for our local emergency responders by tuning in to local weather forecasts in advance of a storm. Consider the listed precautionary measures and, if needed, take action to prevent personal injury, damage and/or loss of your property. It takes all of us working together to keep each other, and this community, a safe place,” she said.

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