The power outage area identified on a PG&E map on Wednesday, shortly after metallic balloons struck a transformer.
The power outage area identified on a PG&E map on Wednesday, shortly after metallic balloons struck a transformer.
(Tulsi Kamath / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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‘Happy Birthday’ foil balloons cause widespread power outage in Downtown Santa Cruz

The outage began around 12:11 p.m. Power was restored quickly for some, but 690 customers remained without power nearly an hour later as crews replaced a transformer.

Foil balloons floated into a PG&E transformer near the intersection of 3rd and Kaye streets early Wednesday afternoon, sparking an outage that initially left 5,953 customers without power in and around Downtown Santa Cruz.

The power went out at 12:11 p.m., according to PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado. It was restored within 15 minutes for most customers. But 690 customers remained without power shortly after 1 p.m.

PG&E crews were at the scene to replace the damaged transformer and re-route power. Deflated “Happy Birthday” balloons were on the ground as crews worked overhead.

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The worksite was near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where birthday and other celebrations often occur.

Crews wrapped up their work around 1:20 p.m. — and power was believed to be restored for all customers.

Tostado said the incident is “a great reminder to not let metallic balloons fly away,” given the possibility that they might collide with metallic material on power lines.

The power outage area caused by the balloons
The power outage area caused by the balloons, as identified on a PG&E map early Wednesday afternoon. Power was restored to all within the area within 90 minutes.
(Screengrab from PG&E website)

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