Balloon suspected of knocking down power lines in SLO

November 24, 2020


A Mylar balloon reportedly knocked down power lines on California Boulevard in San Luis Obispo Tuesday morning, resulting in a small outage and a road closure.

Shortly before 7 a.m., the balloon caused live electrical wires to fall on California Boulevard near Monterey Street, according to the San Luis Obispo Fire Department.

PG&E crews came out to the scene to de-energize and repair power lines. A total of 391 customers are currently without power, according to PG&E. Power is expected to be restored to the affected residents by 10:15 a.m.

Fire officials said a section of California Boulevard would remain closed for one to two hours. SLO police and public works crews have also assisted firefighters with handling the incident.

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A balloon brings down power lines? Blow the overcurrent distribution line fuses OK maybe, “trip” the re-closer high voltage breaker, sure, with the metalized balloon arcing the power off, but bring down? Drop down to the ground?

This stuff (common distribution conductors) is mostly ACSR which is six aluminum twists around a central carbon steel center wire you could tow a line truck with. Or even could be the new composite core, aluminum wrap distribution conductor stuff. Both are durable and can be tensioned to tons of tightness.

Maybe they are using gossamer conductors to save money, or I’m behind on arc technology.

Yes, it is common for a balloon going phase to phase and causing wire to break and fall to the ground. 715Al, 4.0Al and 3.0Cu are more common overhead conductor than ACSR on distribution circuits.