This is an illustration of about how dark it was in Webb City for an hour and a half Saturday night.

Twisted lines are the apparent cause of the blackout Saturday night

Bob Foos

A power outage that turned out the lights in almost all of Webb City for an hour and a half Saturday night was a topic of discussion by the Webb City Council at its regular meeting Monday.

It was about 9:30 p.m. Saturday when the lights went out. Madison Street – even Walmart – had to close, as did all the businesses on Main Street and East Street. Traffic was uncontrolled at the intersection of Main Street and MacArthur Drive.

“It was the worst time ever for Tee Time,” said City Administrator Carl Francis. The new entertainment business was full of customers who had to be evacuated.

There was still a question of how it happened. Francis said the substation by Take-A-Break on Tracy Street was the obvious first place to look for trouble.

But it turned out that the problem was on the far south side of the city.

Francis, who was in touch with a Liberty representative during the outage, said it took longer than it normally would have to get the lights back on because the problem was loacated in an industrial area behind a locked gate.

In a cautionary move to avoid a pressure drop, the water system connection with Missouri American Water was opened as an auxiliary source.

Francis said the outage made it clear the council needs to budget to install natural-gas backup generators at wells not equipped with them.

Two power lines wrapped around each other

The Liberty Utilities operations team issued the following statement this afternoon.

On Saturday night, July 6, Liberty experienced an outage impacting approximately 3,500 customers in the Webb City area. A fault occurred when two phases (power lines) wrapped around each other. This impacted one of the three main substations serving the Webb City area.

The specific cause for this outage is unknown. However, this type of incident can be caused by collisions – a car hitting a pole for example – that shake the power lines or objects hitting our lines, such as wildlife or even fireworks.

The outage lasted approximately 90 minutes. Restoration efforts took a little longer because the fault was located within a gated, privately owned facility that was closed for the weekend. We were able to contact facility representatives who quickly gave us access. We thank them for their speedy response.

Our crews also had to patrol several miles of line, about half on foot because of the location, to ensure the line was safe before energizing.

This transmission line is in the general vicinity of where the problem occurred Saturday night.