By CHELSEA JENSEN
Downed utility poles, one of which was left leaning precariously close to a Kona Bali Kai condominium building, forced the partial closure Friday morning of Alii Drive, one of the few thoroughfares in North Kona.
Ron and Mary Ellen Flowers heard a huge clash, “a great, big kaboom,” about 7 a.m., but thought it was just the garbagemen being loud. The couple, visiting from Erie, Pa., remained in bed until they received a call about 8 a.m. from Kona Bali Kai management notifying them of the downed pole and advising them not to leave their room.
When they opened the curtains of their second-floor condo, their view was of “huge wires” and a leaning pole. The couple said they opted to exit their room, using a rocky path behind the building, but were unable to leave the property because their rental car was near in the area of the leaning pole.
“This not a good place to be,” Ron remembered telling his wife. “If something happens, it’s coming into our balcony.”
Around 7 a.m., a guy wire from a makai utility pole apparently snapped, causing the pole fronting Banyans surf spot to break in half, said Hawaii Electric Light Co. spokesman Roger Keller. Without the tension provided by the guy wire, the utility pole on the mauka side of Alii Drive began leaning toward the Kona Bali Kai building.
Keller said the company is investigating the cause of the downed utility poles. Both poles eventually snapped, though a brace kept the mauka utility pole from falling.
Alii Drive was closed shortly thereafter to both directions of travel while HELCO crews and other contractors repaired the poles. The road reopened to one lane of traffic shortly before 7 p.m.
Kona Bali Kai General Manager Stephen Hicks confirmed the condominium complex’s management quickly notified guests of the situation, leaving them to make the decision whether stay or leave.
No injuries were reported and emergency rescue crews remained on the scene until no longer needed, according to police and Keller. No vehicles were involved.
While power to residents and businesses in the area was initially not interrupted by the downed poles, shortly after 9 a.m. several loud pops were heard and blue flashes seen from a transformer on a nearby pole.
The power outage affected 2,950 residents in the immediate area and into Kahaluu, said Keller. Power was restored to all customers by 9:22 a.m.
Email Chelsea Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.