Over 15 hours after a car crash in Belgrade knocked out power, residents on the northwest side of town finally had heat again. We were at the scene as a number of Northwestern Energy crew members worked to restore power.
I admire them."
Belgrade resident Jim Vining watches Northwestern Energy crews work to restore his power. He tells us it was around 2:30, Saturday morning, when his alarm clock alerted him to a power outage.
"That's about the time it started beeping so, I got up and looked around...Hmm...No lights," explains Vining.
Northwestern Energy representatives tell us a single vehicle crash took out an entire circuit, leaving three-hundred northwest Belgrade residents without power. Close to six hours later, Northwestern had a temporary fix in place called a loop. That's when they use another, undamaged line to reroute power through another circuit.
But for about fifty households, they say, the loop wasn't enough and the poles would have to be replaced before power was restored.
Folks like Vining say they're getting by. It's Montana, people know how to handle difficult situations in extreme weather.
"I got two big ole dogs, plenty of blankets. Hey, it's not my first rodeo," says Vining.
Northwestern Energy Representatives tell us the truck hit a power pole which, subsequently, took down the next pole down.
"At 2:25 this morning, a single vehicle left the roadway on Jackrabbit lane near the intersection of Jackrabbit and 8th Street," explains Belgrade Police Sergeant Dustin Lensing.
We sat down with Lensing at Belgrade City Hall, where folks without power were welcome warm up. He tells us the driver of the vehicle left the scene after the crash. We asked Lensing if weather or alcohol played a factor in the crash.
"The cause and circumstances of the crash are under investigation at this point," replied Lensing.
At 10am Vining and his brother warmed up his truck, while the men he calls unsung heroes continued their work in the bitter cold.
Lensing tells us Belgrade Chief of Police, E.J. Clark, was able to get a grant for a back-up generator over the summer so, the city can always provide shelter at city hall in the case of emergencies.
If you have any information about the crash, please contact the Belgrade Police Department.