Lightning causes glitches

Strikes spark problems with radio traffic

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A lightning strike sparked a communication breakdown for the Craig Rural Fire Protection District on Sunday.

The power went out for 150 residences northwest of Craig after Yampa Valley Electric Association's system sustained several lightning strikes, said Jim Chappell, YVEA spokesman.

Power also went out for the Fire Department's radio repeater on Cedar Mountain. At the same time, a Western Knolls resident reported a gas leak and a motorcyclist crashed into a sport utility vehicle at Seventh Street and Yampa Avenue, Fire Chief Chris Nichols said.

Firefighters were unable to communicate with each other while the radio was down. Power failure with the repeaters hasn't been a problem before, Nichols said.

The gas leak had been reported as a fire. The first truck responded, then the radio went down. The fire was out when the crew arrived, and an investigation is under way, Nichols said.

Once the fire district realized the radio was down, firefighters switched to a state channel.

"Once we worked out the glitches in communications, we had full crews on both scenes," Nichols said, emphasizing that the glitches were minor.

The cyclist was transported to The Memorial Hospital. The name of the cyclist and the extent of his injuries were unknown.

Emergency management across Colorado is switching radios to 800 megahertz signals so everyone is on the same channel.

Craig Fire District hasn't upgraded yet, but the upgrade wouldn't have helped Sunday because it was a power failure, not a radio signal problem.

Yampa Valley Electric replaced several insulators on telephone poles Sunday evening, Chappell said.

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