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Morganton power outage attributed to bird

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

One unlucky bird landing in the wrong place caused a weekend power outage in Morganton that affected hundreds of customers, city officials said.

The outage happened about 4:48 p.m. Saturday when a bird landed on a power pole behind Jake's Restaurant in downtown Morganton, Electric Department Director Brooks Kirby said.

The bird likely landed on an exposed line on top of a power pole and then also touched a ground line. This created a short circuit and a spike in electrical current known as a fault.

"The fault on the circuit was so great that it damaged connectors and jumpers along the circuit and even some hardware back to the substation on Rand Street," Kirby said. "Numerous shops and restaurants that are fed by the circuit lost power.”

Kirby said about 900 customers lost power. But roughly 95 percent of customers had their power back on in a little more than an hour.

By 10:22 p.m., power was restored to all customers.

"Due to the extensive damage along the circuit we had to test the repairs in stages," Kirby said. "That's why some customers experienced outages into the late evening."

The Electric Department started making permanent repairs Monday with no power outages expected.

Kirby said it's not uncommon for birds, squirrels, or other animals to cause power outages.

"We had some small outages last month cause by birds and squirrels," Kirby said, noting that such outages can happen as frequently as three or four times a month.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; On Twitter: @earriero
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