Television sets and lights popped and and blew out in two East Palo Alto neighborhoods after a power surge Thursday night (Aug. 25).
The blow-out occurred at about 9:15 p.m. causing about 50 apartments and some homes on East O'Keefe Street and West Bayshore Road to lose power, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Jim Stevens said.
About 20 homes and apartments on Glen Way and Green Street, two blocks north of University Avenue on the east side of U.S. Highway 101, were also affected.
PG&E cut additional power to about 10 blocks.
The surge burned out SmartMeters at the apartments and at some homes, residents said. Stevens said anyone with a burned meter should not turn on their electricity until an electrician has checked their home.
A PG&E worker said the source of the power surge was a 4,000 volt line. It is estimated that about 400 volts of electricity went through the homes during the surge instead of the usual 110. Wiring could be damaged in homes where the SmartMeters burned out and the company plans to inspect the homes, he said.
A burned-out wire from a high-power line at Glen Way and East Bayshore Road caused the surge, he said.
Some residents said their lights grew extremely bright and they heard loud popping sounds coming from light bulbs.
Other residents said they saw sparking and smoke coming from light poles.
"There were sparks and smoke coming from the pole and fuse boxes," Lai Uasike, a Glen Way resident, said.
Norman Uasike said he heard a big bang and saw smoke and sparks coming from power lines on Glen Way and from a power pole located next to the freeway.
"My little sister's television blew out," he said.
Power has since been restored to about 135 of the 232 customers affected by the power surge and outage, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said. Utility crews are going door-to-door today checking for damage to power meters and circuit panels before restoring power to the remaining customers.
"We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience," Molica said. "We're working as quickly as we can to get the lights back on for them."
At 4:03 a.m. Friday, power lines also came down across a portion of U.S. Highway 101, adding to the power issues in the area. Those lines were cleared by 5 a.m. Customers who suffered damage as a result of the power surge are being encouraged to file claims for reimbursement from PG&E. A form can be found online at www.pge.com www.pge.com.
Update: Most of the homes had been checked by an electrician and power had been restored by Friday afternoon. Employees handed out claim forms for destroyed electronic equipment.