Power back on at Shadow Run, officials say there are lessons to be learned | SteamboatToday.com

Power back on at Shadow Run, officials say there are lessons to be learned

Problems with the boxes on the outside of building A at the Shadow Run Condominiums caused a lengthy power outage at the complex last week. (Photo John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After spending six days without power, residents of Shadow Run Building A know how important electricity is to everyday life, but Jesse DeWolfe, electrical inspector with the Routt County Regional Building Department, said what happened at the housing complex could have been a lot worse than not being able to turn on the lights or take a hot shower.

According to DeWolfe, the electrical contractor fixing the outage discovered a short in the main electrical service after workers who were replacing the siding on the building most likely bumped something that caused the initial power outage on Thursday, Sept. 20.

“It became evident this short happened sometime in the past, and someone attempted to correct the problem by disconnecting the main grounding electrode conductors,” DeWolfe said. “It caused normally noncurrent carrying parts of the service to become energized.

"Had this problem not been discovered, someone could have been injured or killed simply by touching the metal surface and completing the path to ground,” DeWolfe explained. “A fire also could have started as circuit breakers would not have tripped in the event of a ground short."

DeWolfe said it was impossible to know when the initial short occurred or who disconnected the ground wire.

“It is likely that the person who did was not a licensed electrician," DeWolfe wrote. "It was unfortunate that the residents of Shadow Run had to be without power while this was corrected; however, I am grateful the problem was discovered and fixed without instance of injury or damage to property.”

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The new electrical service was installed by a licensed, insured electrical contractor and was permitted and inspected by Routt County Regional Building Department.

Crews from Central Electric responded to the power outage and were able to restore power Thursday night, but the fix proved to be temporary. By the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 21, the decision was made to turn off the power to the building as crews began searching for the source of the problem.

For residents living in the building, the result was six days without power. The property is managed by Mountain Resorts, and owner liaison J.J. Egloff said the power was restored at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Todd Carr, building official with the Routt County Regional Building Department, stressed the importance of hiring an electrician that is licensed in the state of Colorado to perform permitted electrical work on all commercial and residential buildings.

Homeowners, who own and reside in a single family home, are allowed to perform their own electrical work once they have signed a document. That is the only exception, according to Carr.

"All commercial buildings, which includes multi-family buildings or condominiums, must hire a state licensed electrical contractor to perform all permitted electric works — this is a state requirement," Carr said. "The Routt County Regional Building department is always glad to answer questions from property owners or property management companies. It's always best to call first before performing any electrical work, unless you are working with a licensed professional contractor."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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