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UPDATED: Outage strikes Canyon Country

Midday power loss forces minor disruptions; local power-company officials are still investigating

Posted: March 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Tree trimmers remove a tree on Camp Plenty Road near Stillmore Street next to Sierra Vista Junior High School in Canyon Country on Thursday. A fallen branch is thought to be the cause, but Southern California Edison officials are still investigating.

A Sierra Vista Junior High School custodian was shocked by an electric current and numerous Canyon Country homes and business were without power for several hours Thursday after a tree branch struck power lines, causing a transformer to explode, officials said.

At about noon, 2,169 Edison customers near Camp Plenty Road lost power, said Anna Frutos Sanchez, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison.

Workers from Stay Green Inc. were trimming trees in front of an apartment complex near the intersection of Camp Plenty Road and Stillmore Street when a tree branch brushed against nearby power lines.

The branch caused the power line to vibrate. The vibration moved north to the nearest transformer on Camp Plenty, said acting City Clerk Kevin Tonoian. At the same time, it is believed another transformer across the street also exploded. That explosion caused an electrical wire to fall to the ground, Tonoian said.

As the wire fell to the ground, it is believed it struck a chain-link fence surrounding the school, said Sierra Vista Principal Mark Crawford.

Officials believe the electrical current traveled several feet through wet grass and shocked school custodian Kevin Kane, who was standing on the platform of a portable classroom.

“(Kane) said it didn’t feel like a shock, but it did knock him down,” Crawford said. “He never lost consciousness. He was talking to me and laughing about it.”

Kane was treated and released by paramedics at the scene but another school employee drove him to the doctor as a precaution, Crawford said.

Kane had the rest of the day off, he said.

Dozens of Sierra Vista students walking home from school gathered in front of Tiny’s Submarine Sandwiches and talked about the power outage.

Eighth-grader Jordan Sykes, 13, was eating with his friends during the lunch break when he heard the transformer explode.

“I heard a zap,” Sykes said. “It sounded like a ray gun or something.”

Meanwhile, Travis Reiner, 14, was in English class. In an instant, Reiner and his classmates were left in the dark. Some of his peers started goofing around.

“People started yelling and saying the aliens are attacking,” Reiner said.

Many Sierra Vista students flock to Tiny’s after school to buy ice cream. But since the shop’s ice cream machine was without power Thursday, students were left without their fix.

“The kids are going to be let down because they won’t get their ice cream,” owner Susan King said.

A few shops down, Fox Liquor cashier Mario Ortega sat in the dark. Meanwhile, refrigerators at the back of the store holding dozens of boxes of beer were without power.

How long would the beer stay cold?

“The beer will be good for a while,” Ortega said. “Those (refrigerators) stay plenty cold.”

The offices of radio station KHTS-AM 1220, as well as classrooms and offices at Sierra Vista, were affected. Power was restored to all but a handful of customers by 3 p.m., she said.

The exact cause of the outage was still being investigated by Southern California Edison on Thursday.


UPDATE, 3:25 p.m.:

Power has been restored to all but eight Southern California Edison customers, hours after a transformer across from Sierra Vista Junior High School exploded and caused an outage in the surrounding area, officials said.

At about noon, 2,169 Edison customers near Camp Plenty Road lost power when a worker cut a tree branch that caused two power lines to touch, said Anna Frutos Sanchez, an Edison spokeswoman.

The KHTS-AM 1220 offices and Sierra Vista Junior High School were among the businesses and homes affected by the outage.

For more, read tomorrow's Signal.
Original post, 12:57 p.m.:
A power outage in Canyon Country has knocked out electrical power to KHTS-AM 1220's offices, Sierra Vista Junior High School and an unknown number of homes and businesses in the area, officials said.

The outage is believed to have been caused when a tree trimmer accidentally cut an electrical wire near the high school, said Gail Pinsker, a William S. Hart Union High School District spokeswoman.

An employee at Sierra Vista is believed to have been shocked by the wire, she said.

It is not yet known what caused the outage and workers are currently assessing the scope of the outage, said Anna Frutos-Sanchez, a Southern California Edison spokeswoman.

Updates will be posted when they are available.


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