Hit-and-run accident believed to be the cause of Port Orchard outages

PORT ORCHARD — A vehicle that collided with a power pole July 1 has been blamed with possibly causing fires and power outages across Port Orchard.

According to a South Kitsap Fire and Rescue report, the driver of a truck collided with a power pole at about 11:45 a.m. on Bethel Avenue near Hi-Joy Bowl — then drove off. The collision snapped a guy wire — which acts as an anchor to the pole and holds no charge — that may have struck a live wire and caused an electrical discharge, according to fire officials.

The discharge created a power outage that affected more than 1,000 people by a blown transformer resulting from the discharge, according to Puget Sound Energy officials.

Shortly after the collision, SKFR crews responded to a call about a possible fire at the Port Orchard Marina. According to Assistant Chief Jeff Faucett, the fire was contained to a metal storage container outside the marina. The container wasn’t damaged and no one was hurt, he said. The fire is suspected to be connected to the hit-and-run power pole incident.

Almost an hour after the initial hit-and-run, SKFR got another call — this one sending crews to the courthouse after people there began to smell smoke. Faucett said the smoke originated from the same surge in power that caused one of the courthouse’s furnaces to malfunction. This event was minor and the smoke was not visible, fire officials said.

As of July 3, the driver has been identified as a 48-year-old male resident of Port Orchard, according to Port Orchard Police Deputy Chief Dale Schuster. The suspect’s vehicle was followed after the incident by a witness, who called police once the truck was parked.

The truck was found with a broken rear-view mirror and side window, suspected to be caused by the snapped guy wire. The suspect was not home at the time of the investigation, so the investigator at the time left a card asking the suspect to call.

On July 2, the suspect called and confessed, claiming he had fallen asleep at the wheel. After the impact, the suspect said, he freaked out and went home, Schuster said.

Schuster said the suspect will be charged with hit-and-run.

Puget Sound Energy said crews worked into the night to repair damage and restore power to customers.

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