Downed power lines in Novato cause big power outage

May 18, 2012 11:12:22 AM PDT
A major power outage left thousands of people into the dark Thursday night. The likely culprit is high winds that peaked at 54 miles per hour at one point.

People in Marin are being told to stay away from downed high-voltage lines in their neighborhood. It's happening on Sequoia Glenn and Scotia lanes in Novato where 7,000 customers were without power at one point. As of 11 p.m. there are a couple hundred people without power but PG&E says it will still take hours to restore power to everyone.

Firefighters say a power pole could fall at any time. It's at a precarious angle, most likely caused by the high speed winds that raced through Novato late in the afternoon. People who live too close to the downed power lines have been told to stay away.

"That's pretty scary. They're saying if you touch it they'll pretty much kill you instantly, so I don't know how true it is, but it's not worth risking it," said Jake Banks, a Novato resident.

It all began when a power line snapped and caused a small grass fire which neighbors quickly put out. The big concern is that more lines will do the same. Another power pole is already bending. Firefighters say these aren't just your typical 12,000 volt residential power lines, these are high voltage distribution lines.

"So about 60,000 volts is what they believe and to reroute that amount of power takes some timing and a little bit more work than if it would be if it were residential voltage," said Novato Fire Batt. Chief Gerald McCarthy.

And that's why it's taking so long to de-energize the lines. PG&E says all the power should restored by 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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