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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Mylar balloons cause transformer explosion in El Cajon

A transformer exploded in El Cajon Tuesday, causing power lines to fall and spark a vehicle fire, and leaving several hundred residents and businesses without electricity, authorities said.
Mylar balloons cause transformer explosion in El Cajon

EL CAJON (CNS) - Mylar balloons that got tangled in an overhead power cable in an East County neighborhood caused it to overload, break and fall onto the road Tuesday, setting fire to a row of parked cars and leaving thousands of homes and businesses temporarily without electrical service.

The non-injury incident in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue in El Cajon occurred shortly after 7 a.m., according to San Diego Gas & Electric.

The live 12-kilovolt power line fell onto a line of parked vehicles, scorching and burning them until utility crews were able to deactivate it, SDG&E spokesman Hanan Eisenman said.

Police advised residents in the immediate area to stay indoors until the ruptured distribution cable was no longer a threat.

The mishap initially left 2,116 addresses without electrical service. By late morning, SDG&E personnel had restored power to all but 948 of them, according to Eisenman. Those customers were expected to be back on line by late Tuesday afternoon, he said.

Because they conduct electricity, Mylar balloons are an "ongoing problem for overhead power lines," Eisenman said. Utility officials ask people who use the decorative toys to keep them indoors and deflate them before trashing them, the spokesman noted.

SDG&E sent claims adjusters to the neighborhood to inspect the 10 damaged vehicles and discuss reimbursement procedures with the owners, Eisenman said.

Authorities initially said a transformer in the neighborhood had exploded, but it was unclear if those early reports were accurate, according to Eisenman.