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Failed Equipment Caused Sunday Blackout

PG&E says that failed equipment which caused two strands of wires to separate was reason for last night's power outage affecting residents in Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton and Half Moon Bay.

A that took place in the Half Moon Bay area for the second Sunday in a row last night appears to be due to a failed piece of equipment in El Granada used to connect two strands of wires together, according to PG&E.

The separation of the two strands caused the El Granada power line to go down, which put 5,200 residents in Montara, Moss Beach, Princeton, El Granada and Half Moon Bay in the dark, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said.

2,998 customers in Montara, Moss Beach and El Granada were initially affected when the outage hit at 8:50 p.m. Power was restored to 736 of those customers at 9:18 p.m., Molica said. At 10:30 p.m., the power of an additional 2,100 customers in Princeton and Half Moon Bay went out, according to Molica.

Molica said that power was restored to 900 customers at 12:19 a.m. and to 750 more at 12:40 a.m. At 1:10 a.m., all but 250 customers had their power back on. The last 250 customers were back on the grid at 4:45 a.m., Molica said.

Richard Whitmarsh reported seeing a blue flash, then live wires on the ground in the area of Solano Ave. and Valencia in El Granada on Sunday evening.

That flash took place at 8:47 p.m., Molica said. "A blue flash is indicative of the wires separating and the electricity trying to arc across the wires to keep the connection going," Molica said.

The failed equipment, called a bump sleeve, "is like one of those finger puzzles one had as a kid designed for a finger to go through the hole," Molica said.

"The way it works is that wires go through the hole and then it constricts and gets tighter and tighter, which brings the two strands together," he said.

The power outage on the afternoon of Dec. 11, which affected 12,390 customers along the Half Moon Bay coast for an hour, was due to a failed transmission line and was not related to last night's outage, Molica said.

PG&E reminds residents to call 911 if they see downed power lines and to keep the immediate area clear until crews arrive on scene.

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