Nearly 5K PG&E customers lose power because of squirrel

A Fox Squirrel eats a nut along the seventh hole during the second round of the Transitions Championship golf tournament Friday, March 19, 2010, at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Nearly 5,000 utility customers lost electrical service for roughly 90 minutes this afternoon when a squirrel caused a power outage in the Castro Valley area of unincorporated Alameda County, according to PG&E.
The outage was first reported at 12:18 p.m. in the vicinity of North Fifth and Kipling streets.
Utility personnel were able to fully restore service to roughly 4,800 affected customers around 1:45 p.m.
They determined that the outage had been caused by a squirrel that made contact with electrical equipment.
"Animals, especially rodents and birds, do come into contact with our wires and equipment," PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said. "It's risky for them and it can cause reliability issues for our customers."
PG&E has animal guards in place to prevent incidents like this, including a plastic device that clamps over fuses to prevent birds and rodents from making contact as well as insulated rubber hoses that go over wires to prevent animals from chewing through, Sarkissian said.
The utility also retrofits roughly 2,000 power poles per year with protective measures for birds, according to Sarkissian.