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Downed power lines close Highway 20 Tuesday east of Albany.

David Patton, Democrat-Herald

Three downed power poles knocked out power to 10,000 customers and closed Highway 20 near Scravel Hill Road east of Albany shortly after noon Tuesday.

The outage affected customers in eastern Albany and in Jefferson, Millersburg, Scio and Turner, Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt said. Power was restored by 4 p.m. to about half the customers, and restored completely shortly after 6.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation closed the highway about 12:30 p.m. and Oregon State Police troopers said they had cleared the area by 4.

Initially, the outage was reported as affecting nearly 9,300 Pacific Power customers east of Albany. That grew to 10,960 as some areas had to be turned off to fix other areas, Gauntt said.

Clover Ridge, Timber Ridge, Fir Grove, South Shore and Waverly elementary schools all were affected. Timber Ridge has a backup generator and had phones and heat working, but no lights or computers. Jim Haggart, executive assistant to the superintendent, said schools continued with their normal day as best as possible and dismissed at the usual time.

It is unclear if weather caused the poles to topple. However, the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for the south Willamette Valley, with south winds expected at 20 to 30 mph most of the day, plus gusts of 40 to 50 mph.

Gauntt said wind is a likely scenario, but passing trucks sometimes can snag a guy wire and continue on without even realizing they’ve done so. The weakened pole then can fall later, dragging down others.

“Sometimes with three, all you need is one to go and it’ll pull the other ones down,” he said. “We suspect weather, but they don’t just fall down.”

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