A power outage first reported at 8:48 p.m. Tuesday left more than 1,900 Gales Ferry customers, including the Gales Ferry business district, in the dark for about 90 minutes before power was restored to most, but not all.
About 1,600 customers, including most businesses, regained power at around 10:15 p.m. But among those still waiting was Peter Bargmann, owner of Alice's Acres and Cows and Cones, where reportedly about 800 gallons of ice cream sat in his freezers.
At 10:30 p.m. a downed power line remained draped between utility poles by the Gales Ferry Post Office on Hurlbutt Road, and a Gales Ferry Firefighter said power was still out for the village and along Military Highway.
CL&P spokeswoman Katie Blint said the cause of the outage was not known. She said the most common cause of transformer "cut-outs" are tree branches and animals. Excessive demand and poles struck by vehicles also are know to cause outages, but none of these possible causes seemed to apply to Tuesday's outage.
Some Gales Ferry residents used the occasion to light candles and catch up with their Facebook friends. But for business owners, the outage brought some anxious moments.
"I thought I was going to have a heart attack," said Stephanie Nicholson, owner of Fireside Brick Oven Creations, who said she heard a loud explosion just before her pizza restaurant went dark.
Nicholson said at first she joked that her wood-fired ovens would not be affected by the outage. She soon realized, however, that the heat produced by the ovens could spell trouble for nearby walk-in refrigeration units if the outage persisted over several hours.
She said she began frantically placing meat and other perishables down low in the coolers, and covering them with ice. "I think all I lost was dough," she said, with just a hint of irony.
As Nicholson worked to stay ahead of the power loss, Bargmann stopped in to see how she was doing, and to report his situation. "Pete said he had something like 800 gallons of ice cream," Nicholson said.
Cows and Cones was still dark at 10:40 p.m. Blint said the estimated time when power would be fully restored was midnight.
"Our crews were onsite immediately, and we will get the job done as safely and as quickly as possible," she said.