A gray squirrel got too close to the power box on Studley Street Tuesday morning, and his curiosity had unexpected consequences for residents of the west Sonoma neighborhood – as well as for the squirrel himself.
Following a loud bang heard in the 500 block of Studley, power was lost to about 105 PG&E customers. A trouble-shooter from the company arrived at the scene at 10:04 a.m. and determined the squirrel had come in contact with energized equipment and knocked out a fuse.
Crews worked safely and as quickly as possible and restored service within 30 minutes, according to a PG&E spokesperson.
“Animals, especially rodents and birds, do come in contact with our wires frequently,” said Deanna Contreras of PG&E’s North Bay, Sonoma & Humboldt Divisions. “It’s risky for them and for our electric customers.”
Squirrels and similar arboreal travelers cause about 10 to 20 percent of all power outages, according to a recent article in the Washington Post.
Plastic hoses and insulated covers are attached to transformers and wires, and the utility retrofits 2,000 poles a year with covers for bird and animal protection, Contreras said.
Any power outages can be reported to PG&E by calling 800-743-5000.
The squirrel did not survive the encounter.