Squirrel causes power outage

He didn't get loose in church, but the squirrel who made its way through a Yampa Valley Electric Association transformer stirred up just as much trouble.

The squirrel managed to dig past a special "squirrel- and bird-proof" barrier and contact the primary bushing of the transformer causing it to explode. The squirrel didn't make it. The interference caused the loss of power to 23 Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA) customers Sunday morning.

"It was significant," said YVEA line superintendent Vic Rose.

The 1 1/2-hour outage impacted residents from Eighth Street as far south as First Street in Craig, including Trevenen Oil and City Market.

City Market customers saw a partial outage in the store that affected some lights and the scanning devices checkers use to price products.

According to City Market Manager Dee Miller, customers and checkers worked together to estimate prices.

City Market does have a back-up generator, but it only powers lights.

"Any time there are power outages, we take care of customers as usual and in a timely manner," Miller said.

Customers already in the store were accommodated and those outside were not let in until Craig Fire/Rescue could complete a safety inspection.

City Market's misfortune was a boon for the Craig Safeway store. According to Second Assistant Manager Eric Young, sales at Safeway more than doubled during the time power was out. Not prepared for such numbers, employees had to be pulled from other departments to help, but the store was more than able to handle the increase, Young said.

"The employees did an excellent job of handling the influx of customers," he said.

As for the squirrel who caused the mess, nothing remains.

According to Rose, YVEA has installed devices that put off a small charge to distract animals from the transformers. The charges work well, Rose said, and the company has cut its losses due to squirrels. The last power outage due to squirrels was in August.

"We've had a number of outages during the past year due to squirrels," Rose said. "I can't even estimate the dollar amount we've spent so far to protect transformers from animals."

According to Rose, the company is working to do what it can to keep the lights on and try to minimize squirrel deaths.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.