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Death Valley's 4th Summer Power Outage

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avatar Death Valley's 4th Summer Power Outage
August 23, 2016 05:21PM

Southern California Edison is providing this generator to power Furnace Creek Visitor Center until the underground cable is replaced.
NPS photo

DEATH VALLEY, CA –Southern California Edison (SCE) responded quickly to provide backup electricity during Death Valley National Park's fourth power outage of the summer. This power outage had minimal impacts to park visitors.

A power failure during Death Valley's world-famous summer heat could ruin a vacation for someone visiting the park from another continent and make conditions unbearable for employees living in the park. Josh Hoines, chief of natural and cultural resources for Death Valley National Park, said, "We are extremely grateful to SCE's employees and contractors who have come out here and worked around the clock in the heat to restore power as quickly as possible."

Electricity went out at Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Furnace Creek Campground on Monday afternoon. By early Tuesday morning, SCE towed in a generator to power Furnace Creek Visitor Center. "The generator SCE provided allows park employees to continue with routine work and to provide services to the public," said Josh Hoines.

Furnace Creek Campground will remain closed until electricity is restored, which is needed for the sewer system to function. The nearby Furnace Creek Resort has camping available, including sites with RV hookups. Campgrounds with limited services are open in the park's higher elevations at Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat.

Furnace Creek Resort, Stovepipe Wells Resort, and Panamint Springs Resort did not lose power during this event, which was localized to Furnace Creek Visitor Center. All hotels, restaurants, and gas stations in the park are open.

This is the fourth major electrical failure in Death Valley this summer. A lightning strike on July 1 burned three poles and disrupted power to all of Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells for 38 hours. That event forced the closure of park hotels and evacuation of visitors and staff due to high temperatures. A week later the power was out for about a day to finalize initial repairs from that lightning strike.

The current problem which was isolated to a buried cable leading to a transformer near Furnace Creek Visitor Center started at 3:30am on Sunday, August 14. SCE provided a generator for backup electricity until they were able to finish patching the line on August 17. The cable failed again around 3:00pm on Monday, August 22. SCE is working with the park to replace about 2,000 feet of underground cable, which is expected to take at least a week. SCE is providing backup power to Furnace Creek Visitor Center by generator until the repairs are completed.
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