A metallic balloon scored a direct hit on a Southern California Edison substation in Fontana on Tuesday night, knocking out power to 15,099 customers, a spokesman for the power company said.
The balloon, likely a Valentine’s gift, dropped into the substation at about 8:40 p.m., Edison spokesman David Song said by phone. Unlike when a utility pole goes down or a transformer blows, Southern California Edison could not immediately reroute the circuit.
“A substation is kind of like a nerve center,” Song said. “It’s what feeds the circuit.”
A utility crew rushed to the station and had the power restored by 9:51 p.m., Song said.
The substation was the second to go out in Southern California on Tuesday night. A substation in Huntington Beach went out at 7:42 p.m., affecting 21,285 customers. Power was restored there at 10:38 p.m., Song said.
The cause of that outage had not been immediately determined.
It’s unusual for two substations to malfunction on the same night, Song said. Metallic balloons frequently cause outages by shorting out lines and transformers, but it’s very uncommon for them to land in a substation, he said.
Southern California Edison reminds people to keep helium-filled balloons from drifting away. A news release suggests keeping them indoors, or attaching a string or line with a weight tied to it to keep them secure.
Song said balloon-caused outages occur most often around Valentine’s Day and in June during school graduations.