More than 7,000 customers on Capitol Hill were briefly without power early Monday morning after an outage caused by balloons entangled with a power line, Seattle City Light said. UPDATE: Just under 12 hours after tweeting that Mylar balloons were the cause of the early Morning outage — and in the midst of a second afternoon outage — City Light says balloons were found twisted in the lines where the equipment failed but apparently weren’t the cause:
Outage this morning was caused by equipment failure. Crews found mylar balloons in the lines, not related
A City Light spokesperson further muddled the explanation according to the Seattle Times:
The balloons were tied in wires at 15th Avenue East and East John Street, and as crews cleared the balloons they noticed the equipment had failed.
“The balloons may or may not have caused the damage, but we know it triggered something,” Bonaccorso said.
Um, sounds like the balloons aren’t off the hook, after all.
2,000 or so customers remained without power as a crew worked to repair damage caused by the Mylar-style balloons around 3 AM.
While a balloon-caused power outage isn’t something we’ve covered happening before in the area, the Mylar balloons are enough of a problem that utility Souther California Edison warned the media this Valentine’s Day of the dangers presented by balloon gifts for the holiday:
In the last two years, SCE has seen a sharp increase in balloon-related outages, with 689 last year after 583 in 2012. These are the highest numbers since 2007. In addition, there was a 75-percent jump in balloon-caused outages between February (59), when the numbers usually spike, and January (34) last year.
The outage does add to our roster of strange and unusual blackout causes on the Hill including this one in 2010 (warning: contains dead crow) and this allegation in 2014 (warning: contains microhousing).
Outages around the Hill were first reported just before 2 AM.
UPDATE 11:18 AM: City Light’s original tweet blaming the balloons is below — as is their most recent update which seems to — softly — back off the assertion that Mylar is to blame:
UPDATE 1:55 PM: Seattle City light is reporting that around 4,000 customers are again without power in the area: “3,985 City Light customers out of power in Capitol Hill, same area as the outage from earlier this morning. Crews en route.” Here’s a map of the outage from the City Light System Status page.