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Partial Power Back at Mount Washington

February 11, 2003

MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. (AP) _ Partial power was been restored to facilities atop Mount Washington, where a fire forced the evacuation of the weather observatory on the peak known for its brutal weather.

The generator building and a smaller backup building were destroyed by Sunday’s fire, said Scott Henley, spokesman for the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory. Power was partially restored Monday after a crew with a portable generator made an eight-mile trek to the summit by snow tractor.

The power outage silenced three commercial radio stations that have equipment on the peak and left the four winter workers at the observatory without heat and lights. Dozens of state, federal and private agencies with transmitters on the peak, including state police, switched to backup generators. Some of the winter workers went back up Monday but there was no immediate word when all four would be back at work.

The workers who took up the portable generator had a hard time getting around the 6,288-foot summit, officials said.

``You couldn’t see. The wind was blowing at about 50 mph and it was quite cold,″ said Pete Poulsen, an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office.

The temperature atop the tallest mountain in the Northeast warmed to 6 above zero Monday afternoon but the wind blew at 46 mph. Tuesday morning, the temperature was 23 below and the wind blew at 64 mph, the National Weather Service said.

The peak was the site of the highest surface wind speed ever recorded _ 231 mph on April 12, 1934.

The cause of the fire was not known.


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