Thousands of residents in Mountain View have been on the receiving end of three power outages since late August. Metallic balloons are the culprit in the latest outage, which occurred in the Shoreline West region on Sunday morning.
PG&E officials say the outage, reported around 7:50 a.m. on Sept. 30, occurred after metallic balloons came in contact with power lines near the intersection of Chiquita Avenue and Mercy Street, causing power to go out for 4,400 customers. Crews removed the balloons and had to replace damaged power lines and a blown transformer, PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado told the Voice.
The repair work took nearly five hours to complete, and power was fully restored around 12:35 p.m.
Metallic balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, can cause a surge of electricity that short-circuits equipment, Tostado said, which can lead to outages, fires and injuries. The balloons were to blame for 456 power outages in California across PG&E's service area in Northern and Central California in 2017, affecting a total of 371,000 homes and businesses.
"PG&E urges its customers to make sure their balloons are always tied to a weight as required by California law and to never release them outdoors," she said.
Other major outages that impacted a similar region of the city included an "equipment failure" on Sept. 3, which affected 4,440 customers and lasted over six and a half hours, Tostado said. Before that, 6,030 customers were affected by an outage on Aug. 26 caused by a squirrel that gnawed on a power line near the intersection of California and Castro streets, causing nearby electric equipment to fail.