A morning of reflection in the wake of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks turned into an uneasy one when homes throughout the Tri-Lakes and beyond lost power.
A fire at an electric substation in Malone led to 13,500 customers losing power at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday, said National Grid spokeswoman Virginia Limmiatis. The power was out from Malone to Ray Brook, Lake Colby to AuSable Forks.
Limmiatis said National Grid turned power back on to customers throughout the day incrementally, with Saranac Lake and Lake Placid seeing the power back on at about 11:30 a.m. The final 4,000 customers saw power come back on at 5 a.m. today
But many were left in the dark about the reason for the outage until later Sunday. As churchgoers in Saranac Lake gathered that morning at various houses of worship, lit only by windows and candles, rumors and questions were murmured through the pews. Some checked smartphones, looking for news before services started. At St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Saranac Lake, someone said they had heard power was also out in Washington and Philadelphia.
As Mass was about to begin at St. Bernard's, the Rev. Alan Lamica invited state police Senior Investigator Mike Ryan up to the sanctuary to dispel rumors. In a booming voice to compensate for the lack of functional microphones, Ryan explained that a planned outage in Tupper Lake had led to a blown transformer in Malone. That was the cause of the outage, he said, not a terrorist attack.
But Tupper Lake Electric Superintendent said his work didn't have anything to do with the problem in Malone.
"Not that I'm aware of," Bouck said this morning.
Tupper Lake's Municipal Power Department had a scheduled power outage Sunday morning so crews could upgrade the substation there, which led to pushback from the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. Chamber representatives complained the outage was poorly timed, considering that Sunday morning was both a time when many planned to watch televised coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, plus there were many tourists in town for the Adirondack Canoe Classic race.
Bouck said his work went smoothly and there were no issues.
Limmiatis said National Grid wasn't aware of any connection between the Tupper Lake work and the Malone fire.
Peter Kroha, Lake Placid's electric superintendent, said the issue was completely fixed.
"They had to isolate the problem in Malone, and then they were able to pick us back up," Kroha said.
National Grid's website this morning said there were between five and 50 customers without power south of Malone near the Blue Line, and less than five customers without power in Malone as of 7:48 a.m. today. New York State Electric and Gas' website showed 13 of its 2,774 customers in Franklin County without power as of 6:48 a.m. today.
Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.