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Two blocks of power poles and lines were left askew when a boom truck operator, with boom raised, went down a Park Rapids street and snagged a line, setting off a domino effect. (Sarah Smith /Enterprise)

Boom truck snags power line; causes massive power outage in Park Rapids

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Much of Park Rapids was left in the dark Thursday afternoon when a boom truck operator snagged a power line, setting off a chain reaction and causing a power outage.

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The accident, around 3:30 p.m., on Seventh Street just off U.S. Highway 71 caused reverberations throughout the city. Businesses a mile away lost power momentarily.

Minnesota Power officials on the scene say they doubt power will be re-stored tonight.

The truck, from Thelen Precast of Park Rapids, apparently entered the street with his boom elevated, grabbing the power line and several poles. Power poles for two blocks were pulled askew. Crews had to carefully lift the live wires off his truck before he could get out.

The trapped driver was examined at the scene by paramedics, who said he was not injured. He had not been identified.

"It was one of those oops moments," said an officer on the scene.

Barb Wheeler was at ground zero when the accident occurred.

She and Orris Rasmussen were inside the Wheeler home watching a movie.

"All of a sudden we heard a big bang and the house shook," Wheeler said. "The TV went off."

They rushed outside to see what had caused it.

Wheeler's power box and meter had been ripped off her wall.

"We felt the house shake," Rasmussen said. "There were sparks all over" near the power line closest to the snagged line.

Power officials said all the residents and businesses south of Seventh Street were affected, all the way to Straight River Township south of Park Rapids.

Emergency crews swarmed into the area, blocking off alleys and streets where live power lines were looped over trees and down alleyways.

Wheeler said she had three freezers and two refrigerators full of food.

"Don't open them!" a power company worker cautioned.

Wheeler looked to the positive. She reasoned if things get tough, she could hold a party to consume the cold beer before it warms up.

"I got great service from my insurance man," she said. "He was here before the cops were."

State Farm agent Pat Sullivan was two doors down in his office. He raced out to check on everyone.

He filed a claim immediately. He likely will also be a claimant.

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