Photos: Huge wind gust downs power poles, 1,350 without power

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on July 2, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 6:46 AM

Map: 32nd Street, Greenway to Thunderbird

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PHOENIX – More than 1,000 North Phoenix residents are without power after a massive wind gust tore down 17 power poles along 32nd Street late Saturday afternoon.

According to Arizona Public Service, the poles are down along a one-mile stretch of 32nd Street from Thunderbird Road to Greenway Road. Some 1,350 APS customers in that area are affected.

APS crews worked through the night and had all but two commercial customers  -- the Elks Lodge and Paradise Valley School District Office -- back online by Sunday morning.

Photos and video from the scene showed poles snapped in half, their bases splintered. Some of those poles landed on buildings, both commercial and residential.

"This is not exactly what I thought we would have today," said Leanne Lesaffre.

A toppled power pole landed on her fence and part of her garage. Her husband, David, was in their backyard swimming pool at the time.

A wind gust of up to 50 mph, likely part of a downburst, is believed to have ripped through the area taking the poles with it. The intense winds only lasted about 10 minutes.

"Our distribution system can withstand winds of up to 60 mils an hour," said APS spokesman Damon Gross. "For these poles to break like you've seen, it has to be something pretty severe."

With a high of 118 degrees, Saturday is the fourth hottest high ever recorded at Sky Harbor International Airport. The average high this time of year is about 107. The previous record high was 116 degrees in 2001.

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