NorthWestern Energy is still working to restore power to more than 8,000 customers in the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys who lost service after Monday night's severe thunderstorm.

Butch Larcombe, spokesman for NorthWestern, said the majority of those homes and businesses are in Missoula, and the company has called in all of its crews to work on the problem.

"Certainly we're hoping it's a matter of hours, not days," Larcombe said, although he could not give a more specific estimate on when power will be restored.

Some of the more widespread outages are in the Miller Creek and Linda Vista neighborhoods. Larcombe said in addition to downed power lines in that area, crews are also working on a damaged main transmission line.

"We are working from the largest to the smallest outages," he said.

Additional power crews from Great Falls, Helena and Butte have come to Missoula to help, and another 10 teams are on their way.

Larcombe warned people to stay away from downed power lines around town. Customers without power can call 888-467-2669 to report the outage, but may experience wait times as the phone lines have been very busy.

"If they've already called, we don't need them to call back asking why their power isn't on yet," he said.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.