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PEPCO examines cause of Gaithersburg power outage

GAITHERSBURG – Thousands of PEPCO customers lost power Monday night due to a broken circuit breaker, PEPCO spokesperson Frank Tedesco said. 

“We had an issue with a circuit breaker in the Montgomery Village substation,” Tedesco said.

According to PEPCO’s recorded customer information line, as of 5:30 p.m., 5,075 customers did not have electrical power. 

Tedesco said during the span of three hours between 5:16 p.m. and 8:05 p.m., 5,745 customers lost power intermittently. Although as of just before 8 p.m. employees had repaired the circuit breaker, 825 customers connected to a single feeder line were without power up until 8:05 p.m.

A fire engine and a police car blocked traffic on Centerway Road heading toward Goshen Road, between Rhodes Way and Whetstone Drive near a substation for more than an hour until PEPCO employees arrived onsite around 6:45 p.m. That’s across the street from Whetstone Elementary School. Dozens of motorists had to turn their vehicles around and travel a different route. 

The temperature was 18 degrees. About five residents bundled up and ventured out of their homes, through the snow-covered grass toward the metal utility-related box on Centerway Road near Roman Way. Montgomery County Fire Department employees had surrounded it with yellow caution tape. 

The residents conversed with Montgomery County Emergency response team members and inquired about the outage. 

Among those residents was Esteban Grochez of Judge Place, who said he heard two loud noises from his home.

“I was on my computer and then the lights started flickering,” said Grochez Monday. “It was kind of weird. Then I heard like a boom, then like a beeping sound, like a ‘beep beep.’”

“It sounded close (by),” Grochez added. “It was just kind of scary.”

Grochez said at 6:30 p.m. the power in his home had not returned. 

Tedesco said PEPCO employees were continuing to investigate the cause of the outage as of Monday night. He said he had not received reports of any fire or smoke near the circuit breaker.

@kathleenstubbs3

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