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Avista outages zap customers

A theft of copper wire from an Avista Utilities substation early Monday morning caused a power outage for 5,800 Coeur d’Alene customers.

And Monday afternoon a brief downtown Spokane power outage left businesses and offices in the dark until technicians repaired the problem.

The North Idaho incident resulted from thieves cutting through a barbed wire fence to steal copper wire from the Huetter substation near Huetter and Prairie roads in Hayden, according to Avista.

The substation power only started to fail at breakfast time as customers turned on their appliances, said company spokesman Dan Kolbet.

Avista tried to transfer power to a second substation but technical problems caused the outage.

All affected customers regained power by 2:30 p.m. Monday. Police have not identified any suspects, Kolbet added.

Around 12:30 p.m. Monday a section of downtown Spokane lost power after Avista technicians testing equipment at a substation inadvertently caused the outage, said spokeswoman Debbie Simock.

The technicians inside the Post Street substation fixed the problem in less than 10 minutes, she said.

Customers and workers at the River Park Square shopping mall evacuated the building during the outage. Also without power were the downtown Spokane Library building, the Spokane Club and the Federal Courthouse, Simock said.