Bird’s nest caused power outage

  • Police direct traffic during a city-wide power outage in Northampton. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

  • A downtown Northampton power outage forced police to direct traffic and some businesses to close their doors. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

  • A downtown Northampton power outage forced police to direct traffic and some businesses to close their doors. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

  • A downtown Northampton power outage forced police to direct traffic and some businesses to close their doors. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

  • A downtown Northampton power outage forced police to direct traffic and some businesses to close their doors. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

  • A downtown Northampton power outage forced police to direct traffic and some businesses to close their doors. —STEPHANIE MURRAY

Published: 6/25/2016 1:08:40 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Officials say birds were to blame for the massive power outage that overtook Northampton Saturday afternoon.

Some 5,000 customers in the city lost power around 1 p.m. Many appeared to have their power restored at 2:30 p.m., though several were plunged back into darkness a short time later. All outages were restored by 4:30 p.m., according to Dana Simone, spokeswoman for National Grid.

The issue originated at the West Street substation where a bird’s nest was found, Simone said.

Reached Saturday, mayor David J. Narkewicz said the substation has been a source of problems in the past.

In October 2014, a squirrel caused a similar outage throughout the city at the same substation.

Traffic lights went dark, creating a traffic jam downtown. Officers worked to direct traffic at major intersections, including at Main and King streets, where long lines of vehicles and packs of pedestrians waited their turn to move forward.

Left without lighting or functioning cash registers, some business owners were forced to shut down for several hours.

Jack Dumas, owner of Ted's Boot Shop, sat with an employee in his darkened store waiting for the lights to come back on. He was forced to halt business because he cannot operate without power, he said.

“This is a huge inconvenience for businesses and customers,” said Dumas. “It’s the biggest shopping day of the week.”

Mexican restaurant Bueno Y Sano locked its doors and taped a sign to the door.

CVS took a similar approach and taped a sign to the door indicating it was temporarily closed.

But Cuauhtli Hernandez, owner of Northampton Jewelers, Inc., opted to take business outside for the afternoon. He stood in the doorway of his shop, wearing an apron and showing a customer a rose gold ring as fire trucks honked outside, rushing to alarm systems set off by the outage.

“You just roll with it,” Hernandez said. “I just wish I had a little light in there. All I need to work is some light.”

Though his store was darkened by the outage, he still invited customers inside to take a look.

Hernandez said he can run credit cards without power if needed, so he was ready to continue business in the dark.

Staff Writer Sarah Crosby contributed reporting.


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