Blackout chances lessen, but Pitkin County has back-up plan | AspenTimes.com

Blackout chances lessen, but Pitkin County has back-up plan

Staff report

The potential for an extended power outage for as long as 72 hours is not as severe as it was earlier in the week, but Pitkin County officials have a contingency plan in the event a blackout does happen.

In an announcement made early Friday evening, the county said it is taking steps that include using the courthouse as the base operation "to help citizens with essential needs including law enforcement, economic assistance, adult and family services, public health, and clerk and recorder."

"In the early days of the (Lake Christine Fire in Basalt), the likelihood of a three-day-long power outage was high," said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock in a statement. "(On Friday), the likelihood is significantly reduced but not eliminated. We are prepared to provide essential county services to those in need. Our courthouse is a centrally located facility with easy access to offices with backup power. We strongly encourage all able residents to be prepared for an extended power outage and shelter in place."

Emergency calls or texts to 911 can be used with low cellphone battery power. If power is lost, cellphones and cellphone towers will eventually fail, the county said. If that's the case, most telephone land lines remain an option without power. If that doesn't work, the county said the public should use the nearest fire station to use a land line.

"All of our local fire stations have land lines for public use when cellphones fail," said 911 dispatch director Brett Loeb in a statement. The 911 Communication Center also will be available for any urgent government service needs.

"In an extended power outage situation, your 911 dispatchers will be prepared to direct calls that aren't necessarily life-threatening," Loeb said. "We don't want someone not to call for assistance for something urgent just because it isn't a life-and-death situation."

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Preparedness information for a blackout is available at http://www.pitkinemergency.org.