A weekend tree-trimming project gone awry closed Windward Mall and left about 2,000 other Hawaiian Electric customers in Kaneohe without power for over an hour this afternoon.
Power was restored to the mall and all but about 50 customers by about 3 p.m., HECO spokeswoman Jan Miller said.
Just before 1:45 p.m., Thomas Cormack and a friend were cutting branches from a plum tree in a wooded area next to a stream bed behind his Koolau Village Apartments unit on Kamau Place when his friend accidentally sawed a branch that fell onto power lines that run behind the housing complex.
The pull against the lines was so strong that it snapped a utility pole several hundred yards away at Kamau Place and Kealahala Pace.
Cormack declined to identify his friend because he didn’t want to embarrass him, but noted it was an honest mistake.
“We were trying to clear the area because of mosquitoes and stuff,” Cormack said. “I guess he misjudged the branch.”
Cormack said he’s most relieved that his friend, who is not a resident of the complex, was uninjured.
“It was like fireworks,” he said. “Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Was real dangerous! He coulda got killed.”
Cormack, who took it upon himself to inform neighbors in the 80-unit Koolau Village housing project that they’d be without power for a while, said he’d already been yelled at by some of them.
Treston Torres-Sheldon, 16, was playing dodge ball outside with several friends when he heard loud booms and felt the ground shake below him. He said he and his friends ran toward the accident site and saw smoke and sparks of different colors. “It was scary.”
Kaneohe police reported responding to numerous traffic signal outages and other outage-related problems.
A Windward Mall merchant said stores were told by mall security to close their shops about 1:45 p.m.