By Tim Cox
A widespread power outage that lasted nearly three hours Thursday evening was caused by a lightning strike on a substation near Greenville.
The Dayton Power & Light Co. substation suffered a direct strike, knocking out power to 10,000 DP&L customers and an undetermined number of other customers, DP&L spokesman Tom Tatham said. Most of Celina was affected by the outage, even though the city does not buy its power from DP&L. The city's electricity is transmitted exclusively over DP&L lines, which caused the local outage, Celina Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said.
The widespread outage also reportedly affected St. Henry, Fort Recovery and Coldwater.
Attempts to reroute power through a St. Marys substation worked briefly before further problems developed, Hazel said. The city was able to draw a small amount of power through a DP&L transmission line running from Greenville, but it was not close to enough to run the city, Hazel said.
It took DP&L crews nearly three hours to repair the damage that was subsequently done to the transmission line serving Celina and other parts of Mercer County, Tatham said. That damage occurred when the line became overloaded after the lightning strike, he said. Tatham said the substation damage was repaired within an hour.
Only a few areas of Celina maintained electricity, including a section of the Main Street corridor and the Harbor Square shopping center. Even the Celina Police Department had to draw juice from a fire department generator to maintain power, Hazel said.
City officials tried to keep large employers with major equipment posted on the progress of the work, Hazel said. Those included Reynolds & Reynolds Co., CAPT, and Qualitech, some of which sent at least some of their second shift workers home for the night, he said.
"It was nothing we did, and there was nothing we could do about it," Hazel said.