By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
An Enid man died Wednesday night after being found unresponsive in his garage, where he apparently was working on a generator providing power to his home.
Phillip Clay, 69, was found at 8:48 p.m. Wednesday in the garage of a house in the 500 block of North Grant. His residence had lost electricity in Monday’s blizzard.
A report by Enid Police Department officer Thomas Rhyne stated firefighters were performing CPR on Clay when he arrived. Rhyne said he heard a gas-powered generator running and smelled “an elevated odor of exhaust fumes in the air.”
The garage door was open and Clay was lying across the opening, according to Rhyne’s report. Clay was transported to Integris Bass Baptist Health Center, where he was pronounced dead later.
Clay lived with his wife in a duplex, and his mother lives in the other half of the duplex, according to Rhyne’s report. He was using the generator to provide heat and some electricity to the duplex.
“The garage the generator was located in had no ventilation to release the exhaust fumes from the gas generator,” Rhyne’s report stated.
A witness told Rhyne that Clay went to check on the gas level of the generator. After 30 minutes, she checked and found him unresponsive and curled up in the garage near the closed door, according to the report.
Rhyne spoke with Dr. Brian Cook, the emergency room doctor, who said he suspected the cause of death was a high level of carbon monoxide. Clay’s body was sent to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.
Crews were working across northwest Oklahoma to restore power.
They were hampered in many places by deep snow and the number of poles and lines downed.
In Enid, OG&E Electric Services workers had all major lines coming into the city restored by Thursday, said John Little, OG&E district manager. It was not a matter of getting the rest of the customers without power back up, he said.
As of 7:50 p.m. Thursday, OG&E System Watch reported 719 customers in Enid without power. The number was more than 21,000 after Monday’s blizzard.
In outlying areas, Little said “things are going well.”
By tonight, crews should have all major feeder lines to area towns restored, he said. Then, it will be a matter of getting individual customers back.
More crews are coming in to help with the work and they will “knock it out as fast as we can,” Little said. It some places, particularly in the Waukomis area, he said, it could take through the weekend to get power restored.
Other outages on System Watch included: Alva, 62; Douglas, 95; Drummond, 241; Garber, 93; Hunter, 204; Imo, 69; Jet, 126; Kremlin, 83; Lacey, 109; Lahoma, 77; Medford, 139; Meno, 95; Nardin, 69; and Waukomis, 174.
A Hunter resident said Thursday OG&E has a tough job there.
Town Board member Cheri Bonnett said there is damage on the east and west sides of Hunter, and she anticipates OG&E will have a big job repairing it.
“All the poles are broken on the west side of town, and all the lines are twisted on the east side. They’ve got a big problem there. I wouldn’t want to be an OG&E man,” Bonnett said.
Bonnett said her house lost power at 10 p.m. Monday.
Little said he anticipated Hunter would be up today. With an influx of crews and contractors, more work is being done at a faster pace.
“We have new crews and contractors coming in. We’re hitting it hard,” Little said.
Little urged anyone who does not have electricity yet, to call the statewide outage line, (800) 522-6870, even if they have called previously.
Two electric cooperatives that serve parts of northwest Oklahoma are experiencing similar issues.
Cimarron Electric Cooperative, of Kingfisher, had about 220 poles broken in the blizzard, according to a statement on the company’s website. About 2,200 meters currently are affected.
“Our crews are replacing poles, broken crossarms and splicing broken wire throughout the system,” the statement reads. “Muddy and snow-drifted roads are increasing restoration times. Ditches filled with snow, water and mud make it necessary to pull trucks out, further slowing down getting line put back together.”
In addition to the company’s workers, three contractor crews have been called in, and two other cooperatives have sent workers.
Alfalfa Electric Cooperative, of Cherokee, had more than 200 poles downed, according to a statement on the company’s Facebook page.
“AEC has hired a helicopter to be able to fully determine the extent of the damage, as we are unable to get to many areas by ground transportation,” the statement said. “AEC has brought in nine five-men crews to expedite repair efforts. AEC is using all equipment available to access the areas in need of repair.”