Lion linked to blackout, paragliders pause power — and other strange outages in April

Posted by Melissa Tamberg on May 5, 2016

From stranded mountain lions, to errant para-gliders, to an innocuous bag of hand tools (yes, really!), April proved to be a very unusual month for power outages. The Blackout Tracker logged 443 separate cuts throughout the United States, affecting more than 2.1 million people over a collective 13+ days. Not to mention, a couple of would-be Olympians in India may have lost their opportunity to participate in the games because of a blackout.

Lions and tigers and frogs, oh my!
Ok, so maybe there weren’t really any tigers — at least that we are aware of — but a lion and a frog were definitely responsible for knocking out power in separate incident s in April. Utility officials in Polson, Mont., had to intentionally cut electricity on April 6 after discovering a mountain lion stuck at the top of a power pole. Game wardens and biologists rescued the cat by tranquilizing him. He then tumbled to the ground, but apparently wasn't injured in the fall. Officials planned to release him back into the wild.
Unlike the cat, there was no word on the condition of a frog that hopped into a substation and knocked out power to 1,925 people in Kissimmee, Fla., on April 28.

Not the sharpest tool in the shed
After taking precautions for the worst case scenario — including cutting power to 3,800 people for more than an hour — Michigan State Police were relieved to discover that a suspicious package left at a utility substation contained nothing more than hand tools.

On April 28, utility workers found the package, which was wrapped in plastic with duct tape, inside a fenced area underneath a large piece of equipment. After a long and careful investigation, state police determined the package contained nothing more than a variety of tools. However, due to where the parcel was placed, police believe it was put there intentionally.

Next time, just make a U-turn 
A semi truck caused a fire at a gas station and a power outage in the surrounding area on April 14 after missing a left turn. Rather than simply turning around, the driver decided to cut through the pump area of a Shell gas station. The truck hit a gas pump and broke it off, then proceeded to hit a power pole. The tension on the lines broke some power cables, with the stress on the system causing a fuse to blow and resulting in a power outage in the immediate area. Meanwhile, the pump caught fire and staff at the gas station had to hit the emergency shutoff valve. The fire was under control within five minutes of firefighters' arrival, but the pump was destroyed.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … paraglider. (Make that two!)
In the history of the Blackout Tracker, Eaton has only once uncovered an outage caused by a paraglider, back in 2011. Yet last month alone, two communities were left in the dark after separate accidents.

In the first, which occurred on April 14 in Templeton, Calif., a paraglider caused a blackout to 2,300 customers after becoming tangled in power lines. Cal Fire received a call for help and rescued the stuck daredevil, whose condition was not revealed.

Then, on April 18, a Canadian paraglider missed the intended landing zone and had to be rescued after becoming stuck in power lines in North Vancouver. Electricity had to be cut to the area – affecting approximately 3,000 B.C. Hydro customers – as a safety measure for the rescue operation. Emergency responders brought down the paraglider safely. 

Lights out on Olympic dreams?
Across the globe, an unexpected power outage had a devastating effect on a couple of Indian Olympic hopefuls last month. Two sprinters failed to qualify for Rio’s 2016 Olympics after their new national records were not ratified because they were recorded on hand-held clocks. Race organizers at the Indian Grand Prix could not use electronic timings due to a power cut at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Tags:  Power Loss

Posted in: News


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