Blown transformer puts Cannon Beach in the darkCANNON BEACH - A bird was the cause of a 41/2 -hour power failure in Cannon Beach Monday.

At 10:27 a.m., 2,500 customers lost electrical power after a bird flew into the city's substation and caused a transformer to blow out. Pacific Power immediately sent a crew to the site and power was restored by 3:15 p.m.

Cannon Beach Public Works handled the power failure without any problems, Public Works Director Joy Gannon said. The department used generators to keep water and sewer pump stations running smoothly.

"It happens from time to time," said Pacific Power Spokesman Jon Coney. "The substations are fenced off, but those little critters have a way. They get pretty tenacious sometimes. Often times, the animal does not make it in situations like this."

HELEN WARRINER - The Daily Astorian

Mary Baum of Portland holds a T-shirt up to the light at the door of El Mundo for Men in Cannon Beach. A four-and-a-half-hour electrical power failure left 2,500 customers in the dark Monday.Cannon Beach seemed fairly deserted for most of the day, after many businesses shut down. City Hall shut its doors at 11 a.m. and most employees headed home. However, city generators came online and powered the phone system and auxiliary lights. Generators also powered the police department's computers, radios, portable radio chargers and lights, Cannon Beach Police Officer Rob Schulz said.

"We were real busy with phone calls, but nobody panicked," he said.

At the Cannon Beach fire hall, generators also switched on to power phones, lights, computers, scanners and automatic doors and operations continued as usual. The fire hall is a designated command post for police, fire and public works in the event of a disaster or tsunami, according to Fire Marshal Mike Graham.

Cannon Beach Elementary School stayed open and apart from a few minor changes, classes continued as normal, Head Teacher Suzy Roehr said. When the power failed, lunch had already been heated and the school had been warmed. Doors were kept shut to keep the heat in and students stayed in

their classrooms for recess and physical education, instead of going into the dark gymnasium.

"Teachers just adjusted," Roehr said.

The streets in the city's downtown area were quiet and many businesses closed their doors. Pat Smith, a sales representative at El Mundo for Men, lit candles to add some extra light and welcomed shoppers looking for sweatshirts to ward off chilly mist. Cash registers and computers were down, so receipts were written by hand.

"Seattle spring break ended, so we expected it to be a little slower," Smith said. "I'm seeing a lot of business going up to our Seaside store. Although I am seeing a lot more people than I thought I would."

The Howland family from Issaquah, Wash., was visiting Cannon Beach on vacation and had planned to spend the day shopping and eating at local restaurants. Instead, they had lunch in Seaside, and on their way back, popped into El Mundo.

At La Luna Loca down the street, owner Kathy Kleczek decided to stay open to try to catch as many customers as she could. She has many skylights in her ceiling, which let in quite a bit of natural light. But she estimates that she'll lose at least several hundred dollars in business because of the failure. She also was not able to check important Internet orders or send e-mail to customers.

"Usually, this week is pretty good, because we have a little bit of spring break, but also people who aren't on spring break," Kleczek. "That's why I'm even open on a Monday. I would be closed if it wasn't spring break time."

At Mariner Market, generators kept the registers, credit card machines and lights on. Supervisor Brian Tingle placed all of the meat and produce on ice and taped the freezer doors shut to keep in as much cold air as he could. Because the power was out for only a relatively short time, Tingle does not think any merchandise was lost.

"As soon as the lights were back on, we got real busy," he said. "All the people came after being stuck to stock up."