A host of businesses and restaurants at College and 11th streets were without power right before the lunch rush hour Thursday, Jan. 31.
The loss of power occurred when an 18-wheeler caught a low-hanging communications line in the Monterey House restaurant parking lot on 11th Street. Businesses as far away as Eighth Street and College Street were without power, including CVS, Whataburger, Triangle Pawn, HEB and Sonic. At least three telephone poles could be seen laying at a 45-degree angle, having been pulled out of their upright positions.
“Once he caught that phone cable, this transformer blew and we lost power,” said Andy Pillitieri, the manager of Sonic on 11th Street. “So, I came outside and all of a sudden there was just a little smoldering at the base of this tree. Next thing I knew the whole tree was on fire.”
Pillitieri said he called the fire department who quickly put out the blazing palm tree, but with no power, the New York native had to send his employees home.
“There’s nothing they could do,” Pillitieri said in a thick Queens accent. “We cleaned up, locked everything in the coolers and freezers. We’ll be alright. If they get power in a couple of hours, we’ll be fine.”
Jerry Cravey of T&D Solutions, a subcontractor working for Entergy, said the outage should be fixed about 3 p.m. thanks to BPD blocking the street and directing traffic around the downed power lines.
“That’s the biggest thing we have problems with when we have storm work or something like this; the public, they wanna come in and see what’s going on,” Cravey said. “They see somebody down there working and they got power out, they really oughta try and take a different route.”
Having won a recent award for his gardening, Pillitieri said he was frustrated a portion of his colorful flower beds were charred, but was thankful no one was hurt.
“I take great pride in keeping my flower beds looking nice, and this is what I get,” he joked.