Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees coped with a full day of High Desert summer heat when electrical power to Fort Irwin shut down shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday, July 22. About 24 hours later, Southern California Edison restored power that was cut garrison-wide when a short, but intense thunderstorm passed through Barstow and downed four major utility poles that fed electrical power to the post about 41 miles northeast of Barstow.
Most of the garrison was without power that Monday in the late afternoon through the next day’s afternoon, leaving about 2,600 residential units and many offices without air conditioning and enduring heat that ranged from a low of more than 80 degrees at night and nearing 100 degrees both afternoons.
The garrison trucked in 8,800, 20-pound bags of ice (more than 88 tons), and distributed 5,100 bags of ice at Tiefort Middle School and Lewis Elementary School, to help housing area residents cope with the heat. Several facilities with working air conditioners were also opened as cooling stations to those seeking refuge from the heat.
The garrison’s public works department ensured backup and portable generators were kept running to continue essential services at key facilities, including the post hospital, the Commissary, the 24-hour mini-mart and gas station, and the child development centers.
Many offices without lights and working computers closed the next morning. Victor Valley Transit Authority arranged a special 10 a.m. pickup for employees using its NTC Commuter bus service to Barstow, Silver Lakes and Victorville.
Information about the outage and recovery operations were provided through the post’s email system, its Facebook page, radio station KNTC 88.3 FM, and fliers distributed at high traffic areas.
“I was proud and greatly impressed about how the entire Fort Irwin community – from the Soldiers and Family members to government civilians and contractors – pulled together to keep our fort going under those extreme conditions,” said Col. Jon Braga, commander of U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Irwin. “Many worked long hours, dedicated to providing and restarting needed services to all of our community members. It’s a team you want to be on.”