SAN JOSE, Calif. - Pacific Gas & Electric says over 17,000 homes are without power in the South Bay after Monday night’s powerful storm. Thousands of residents in San Jose are still without power after a transmission tower and power lines in the Willow Glen area were destroyed by falling trees just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
The utility said they’ve already rerouted power from this tower and that much of the outage was caused by trees coming down on power lines. As of 5 p.m., the company said they’re working to get power back to about 2,100 residents in San Jose.
"We had a very large Eucalyptus tree come down and strike a transmission tower. Now the weight of that tower brought down power lines and three different poles that serve electricity to the Willow Glen area," said Mayra Tostado, a PG&E spokesperson.
The transmission tower was mangled and twisted after wind and rain brought down a large Eucalyptus tree nearby, destroying the tower. PG&E says the amount of water in the ground weakened the tree’s foundation making it easier to topple.
"This has been a very powerful storm, and it hit the South Bay very hard. Just this morning throughout our service area, we had about 100 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes reported. A lot of them in the South Bay," Tostado said.
PG&E reports 19,248 customers were without power throughout the South Bay as of 7pm Tuesday night. The company said they’ve brought in dozens of crews including outside contractors to assess the tower damage, and remove fallen trees. One man said through an interpreter that he lives in an encampment along the Los Gatos Creek nearby. He explained how he escaped being hit by falling trees.
"I heard the wind, a gust of wind come through, and the next thing you know I heard the trees being uprooted and taking down the tower. I grabbed my girlfriend and came out. By the time we came out, it toppled down on top of everything and barely missed us," Tony, who did not give a last name, said.
Scott Bradley, who's lived in Willow Glen for 70 years, said he’s never witnessed anything like this.
"I began to see the scope of it and the more I looked, the more I could see power lines down a quarter-mile away. It’s really affected a lot of stuff. It’s going to be a big maintenance job, but it looks like they’re going to get right on it."
PG&E said people without power should take precautions, use flashlights instead of candles and leave generators outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. They don’t know exactly when this tower will be replaced, but crews will be working here around the clock.