American power outage caused by metallic balloon

A power outage in an American town was caused by a metallic-skinned helium balloon which had escaped from a nearby celebration.

The Hood River outage occurred on November 12, and acts as a reminder to be wary of balloons flying near powerlines.

“We found unmistakable Mylar shreds when we did the repairs,” said vice-president for operations at Pacific Power Curt Mansfield.

The balloon apparently blew from the celebration into a substation and made contact with electrical equipment and caused a short.

Pacific Power reported about 30 balloon-related outages in 2015, ranging in duration from a few minutes to several hours.

In 2014, a balloon caused a six-hour outage in Seaside in the middle of July 4 weekend. Balloon-caused outages occur throughout the year, but about one third of them are during May and June when people are celebrating graduations and Father’s Day.

“Balloons may seem like small things, but when escaped helium-filled balloons touch power lines, transformers or substations, even the smallest amount of metal found in the balloons can conduct electricity, causing damage to lines and power fluctuations or outages in nearby homes and businesses,” Mr Mansfield said.

“Balloons also can cause serious personal injury if they make contact with lines when anyone is still touching an attached string.”

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