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Heavy snow causing power outages in region

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FARGO - Heavy snow weighing down power lines and tree branches is being blamed for power outages overnight in rural Becker County, Cass County and Valley City, N.D.

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Cass County Electric Cooperative line crews are working to restore power to about 250 customers who lost power during the night due to poor weather conditions, according to a statement from spokeswoman Carrie Joyce.

The outages are scattered throughout the co-op's service territory, affecting an area west of State Highway 18 and throughout seven counties.

The co-op has enlisted the help of tree contractors to remove branches that damaged power lines. Crews worked throughout the night and continue to work this morning, Joyce said.

Barnes County Sheriff Gene Bjerke said he lost power at his house in Valley City at 9 p.m., and intermittent power outages continued through the night in the city.

Heavy snow is weighed down power lines, causing one pole to topple, he said. A hanging power line left burn marks on a sport utility vehicle and fried its radio and heater as a woman was driving into Valley City for work this morning, he said.

Snow-covered tree branches are pushing against power lines, shorting them out and blowing transformers, he said.

The National Weather Service received estimates of 5 inches of snow in Valley City as of 5 a.m. today. A light mist was falling shortly before 7:30 a.m., Bjerke said.

Slushy roads also led to several vehicles hitting the ditch, he said.

Power outages also were reported in Stutsman County, N.D., and on the south and east sides of Lake Melissa in Becker County, sheriff's dispatchers said.

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