Crash leads to power outage, house fire

Utility crews work to reroute power to neighborhoods in Naugatuck and Prospect after an SUV slammed into two utility pole son Prospect Street in Naugatuck Wednesday afternoon. -LARAINE WESCHLER/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — A one-car accident on Route 68 Wednesday afternoon set off a domino effect that led to power outages and an early-morning house fire.

Route 68, or Prospect Street, was closed between Union City Road and Locust Street after a 2010 Chevy Tahoe heading west veered off the road and crashed shortly before 2:30 p.m. The accident took down two utility poles and wires, knocking power out to hundreds of Eversource customers.

No major injuries were reported in the accident, police said

After a subcontractor for Eversource restored power to the home at 419 Prospect St. at about 3:45 a.m. Thursday, workers noticed smoke coming from the walls of the home, and the home caught fire.

Fire Marshal Robert Weaver said two adults and a child were home at the time.

Police said they were evacuated and suffered minor smoke inhalation.

Weaver said the fire was caused by a power surge that fried the wiring of the home, leading to an electrical fire. He said the surge was caused by the car accident and not the process of restoring power.

Weaver said the initial damage to the wires from the accident resulted in a power surge. He said when power was restored the damage from the surge became apparent and sparked the fire.

“This is very much an ongoing investigation, so it’s premature to discuss the details until we get to the bottom of this. We’re continuing to work with the fire marshal,” Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said.

Weaver said the fire was extinguished quickly and the fire damage was limited to the kitchen area of the home. He said the home suffered significant electrical damage and will be without power until the wiring can be fixed.

Building Inspector Bill Herzman said the home’s wiring was overloaded. He said it’s too early to tell the extent of the electrical damage and an electrician is being consulted to figure out the next step.

The American Red Cross is helping the family, the organization said in a press release.

Herzman said five other homes nearby also suffered various levels of electrical damage. He said Eversource has an electrician reviewing the damage.

Police said the car accident was the result of distracted driving. The driver, a middle-aged man who was the only person in the car, was reading something — not on a cell phone — and failed to navigate a corner, police said.

The man was issued an infraction for distracted driving, police said.

The accident initially knocked out power to about 700 customers in Naugatuck, 400 customers in Prospect and seven in Waterbury. The road was closed through much of the day Thursday as utility crews worked to replace the poles. The road was reopened as of Friday morning.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Route 68 was reopened as of Friday morning.