Wind Gusts Knock Out Power In Pine, Strawberry

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Nearly 3,000 residents in Pine and Strawberry spent two hours in the dark Saturday night when a windstorm blew into town.


It took Arizona Public Service crews that long to repair power lines that were torn down by a wind-toppled pine tree.


"Ponderosa pines don't have a strong root system," APS Payson District Manager Jim Spencer said, which makes the trees susceptible to high winds.


The tree had to be about 50 feet tall to knock down the power lines, which were strung 35-feet in the air, Spencer said.


The National Weather Service reported wind gusts Saturday night ranging from 34 to 53 miles an hour in parts of northern Arizona. The weather service did not, however, have wind-speed readings for the Payson area.


In Strawberry, the power outage set the stage for an old-fashioned sing-along at a popular tavern.

The Sportsman's Chalet was hosting a grand opening to celebrate new ownership when the lights went out at 9:30 p.m., manager Jinjer Carter said.


"We had between 75 and 100 people in here and they all stayed," she said.


A customer brought in a large overhead light powered by a generator, and the crowd broke into song because the band was no longer able to play, she said.


"They were singing Kumbaya."

Power was restored at about 11:30 p.m., giving the band time to play one final set before last call.

"Everyone here thought it was cool because it wouldn't happen like this in the Valley," Carter said.

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