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Downtown Sonora Power Outage Blamed On A Balloon

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Sonora, CA – A PG&E power outage that impacted 96 customers on Tuesday afternoon is being blamed on a balloon.

This comes a week after about 30,000 customers lost power on Thursday, April 15th that mostly impacted Tuolumne County customers, along with a small amount in Stanislaus and Calaveras counties. After inquiries by Clarke Broadcasting regarding a cause and whether another massive outage on March 6th in the same area were related, utility spokesperson Megan McFarland detailed that “both were due to transformer equipment failures, but were not related,” as reported here.

The lights went out yesterday at 1:28 p.m. and McFarland relayed that a crew was on-site within 20 minutes. She stated, “The cause of the outage was a metallic balloon getting stuck in the lines. The balloon was safely retrieved from the lines and power was restored to all customers at 2:15 p.m.”

Metallic balloons getting stuck in PG&E’s lines are a continuous problem, according to McFarland, who instructed that last year metallic balloons caused 453 outages in PG&E’s service area, knocking out power to 250,834 customers, a 29 percent jump from the previous year.  Last year in Sonora there were four outages caused by metallic balloons, knocking out power to a total of 9,682 customers.

PG&E provided these tips for celebrating with metallic balloons:

  • “Look Up and Live!” Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  • When possible, keep metallic balloons indoors. Never permit metallic balloons to be released outside, for everyone’s safety.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite, drone, or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
  • Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. Stay far away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.
  • Downtown Sonora PG&E power outage

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