Downed wires spark fire in Darien

As Darien and the surrounding area continue to work to recover from Tropical Storm Isaias, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she had contacted Gov. Ned Lamont to get help.

Stevenson noted that there was a fire on West Avenue in Darien on Friday morning and pointed out it was a result of the downed live wires continuing to be active in town.

While she said that there have been some improvements in town — Darien’s power outages were down from 42 percent to about 33 percent on Friday — but there some things weren’t better, including the fire.

Recovery across the state has been slow in terms of cleanup and power restoration, she said. While on the call with Lamont, Eversource and other utility companies, all the leaders from the towns had the same complaint, Stevenson said.

While reiterating that she and Darien have had a good relationship with Eversource in the past, Stevenson noted that the response was “different” after this storm.

“Normally Eversource sends in ‘make safe crews’ to clean up trees and deenergize wires so that towns can proceed with cleanup. They’re not doing it this time for us here in Darien. There are so many roads still blocked with wires and trees down,” Stevenson said.

In response, Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said he “understands the first selectman’s concerns and the sense of urgency.”

The utility company was coordinating work to restore power with the 149 towns and cities it serves that have been affected by the storm, Gross said.

“We continue to push for restoration as safely and quickly as possible,” he said.

While Gross said he did not have town-by-town restoration estimates, he said Eversource expects nearly all restoration to be completed by late Tuesday night. However, he said most of the work should be done earlier, starting Friday and through the weekend.

Because the cleanup hasn’t happened, Stevenson expressed concern that any winds could pull down more wires and possibly cause similar fires.

She said she texted Lamont on Thursday and said, “We need help. This is not OK.”

But Stevenson said she hoped the situation is improving. “I think we are moving in the right direction. More crews are coming in from other locations and there should be a lot more utility crews on the road today and tonight,” she said.

In her Thursday Code Red message, Stevenson sent out the following information to residents:

Restoration work for Frontier phone and Optimum internet service is fully dependent on electric utility restoration, she said. Verizon system disruptions have been resolved.

Stevenson warned that generators produce dangerous carbon monoxide. They should not be placed inside homes or garages. Generators should be more than 20 feet from homes, doors and windows.

Three cooling and recharging centers are available in town: The Darien Library, the Darien YMCA and the Mather Center at Town Hall. The Mather Center is open by appointment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday by calling 203-656-7490. All facilities have limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.