SPOKANE, Wash.— An Avista spokeswoman called Saturday's storm the worst the utility has experienced since the 1996 Ice Storm.
The storm slammed the Inland Northwest forcing another massive cleanup and causing tens of thousands of people to lose power just ten days after a similar storm rocked the region.
40-60 mph winds knocked down trees onto power lines. Downed lines or lightning sparked several small brush fires throughout the region, but by Sunday morning all of those fires were contained.
At the height of the storm Saturday night more than 50,000 Avista customers were without power, which was about 10,000 more than the July 23 storm.
Avista initially expected to have power restored to 90-percent of its affected customers by 10 p.m. Monday, but reached that goal ahead of schedule at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m., Avista reported more than 4,000 customers were still without power. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, power had been restored to 99-percent of customers.
Inland Power and Light reported about 2,900 customers in the dark and Northern Lights (Bonner County) had 1,011 at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Pend Oreille PUD expected less than 500 customers were still without power.
Kootenai Electric restored power to all of it's customers before Monday morning.
Avista expects to have power restored for 95-percent of its affected customers by 10 p.m. Monday. However, customers in some areas of North Spokane County, Deer Park and Sandpoint may have to wait until Tuesday according to Avista leaders.
The storm hit many of the same areas as the July 23rd storm.
Avista had every available crew working Sunday. An announcement went out over the public address system at the Spokane Indians game at Avista Stadium Saturday night for all Avista employees in the crowd to please report to work. Avista also called in crews from across Eastern Washington and North Idaho to help restore power. Avista said crews will be working round the clock until all power is restored.
Saturday's storm was almost all about the devastating straight line winds and contained very little rain in comparison to the July 23rd storm. The peak gust from Saturday was 68 mph near the town of Wellpinit. No rain was measured at Spokane Int'l Airport or Coeur d'Alene.
This storm was also different from the July 23rd storm because of the many brush fires it sparked.
KREM 2 News was tracking seven small brush fires after 7 p.m. Saturday.
The two largest were brush fires near Day-Mt. Spokane Road and Randall Road called the Madison Fire which briefly threatened structures and the Jim Hill Road fire near Chattaroy that caused lane restrictions for a few hours Saturday night on Highway 2. The Madison fire burned 14 acres and the Jim Hill Fire burned 45 acres, including land on both sides of Highway 2 near Big Meadows Road.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich reported 15-20 homes containing 23 people were evacuated as a precaution near the Jim Hill Road fire. All of those residents were back in their homes Sunday.
Knezovich asked everyone in North Spokane County to stay home Saturday night and early Sunday morning so crews could clear fallen trees and downed power lines from roads.
Another small brush fire burned along Interstate 90 near Exit 1 in Post Falls Saturday night. Firefighters quickly knocked it down.
Other fires in the area included one near Spangle along Highway 195, another near the Spokane Country Club along Waikiki in North Spokane County and a house fire in Post Falls that started from a lightning strike.
Knezovich said he thought the July 23 storm did more damage than Saturday's storm from his initial reports.