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3,000 Lose Power After Balloon Sparks Telephone Wire Fire

Outage affected Corte Madera, Larkspur and Mill Valley

A mylar balloon that got hung up on a power line on Camino Alto sparked a small fire Monday that caused an outage for 3,000 PG&E customers, Fire Chief Jeff Davidson said. 

Power cut out at 11:47 a.m. and affected about 350 customers in Mill Valley, 2,000 in Corte Madera, and 650 in Larkspur, PG&E spokeswoman Brittany McKannay said. It was restored by 12:30 p.m.

The flames were contained to about 20 square feet near the , by the pole adjacent to where the balloon got caught in the wires. Firefighters closed down one lane on Camino Alto to get trucks to the scene, and quickly put out the fire, Davidson said.

The traffic signal at the Corte Madera end of Camino Alto went dark for a time as a result of the fire.

It's not uncommon for balloons to affect service. 

"We have a number of outages around the holidays caused by balloons," McKannay said.

Valentine's Day stands out in particular, and residents should remember to keep balloons weighted and not release them into the air.

R. T. October 02, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Unhappily, this shows the dark side of balloons. They're fun and help us celebrate life events, but once they sail off into the sky they come down somewhere else as ecological litter. They're the plastic shopping bag's pretty sister.
Ian October 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
It's amazing that something as small and simple as a balloon could cause so much trouble!
linda v. October 02, 2012 at 10:41 PM
My friend Laura was the one who noticed the fire and asked a bicyclist to call the fire department while driving by. Whew...how horrible it would have been if that whole area caught fire. Here is to Laura R. and her bicyclist friend.

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