Squirrel causes hour-long power outage

by Astrid Bradley | 10/27/06 5:00am

Hanover Police Officers direct traffic at the crosswalk of Main St. and Wheelock Rd. after the blackout.
by Emma Haberman / The Dartmouth

The substation, which is located on North Main Street, caught fire after the squirrel apparently attempted to cross between lines of a high-wire without removing its entire body from the line on which he previously perched. The charred remains of the squirrel were found at the scene.

The Fire Department arrived on the scene to extinguish the fire.

Plant operator Shaun Impey compared the squirrel to a fallen branch shorting a circuit.

"It is not an uncommon occurrence," Impey said. "It has happened before."

A number of grounding rods and lightning arrestors were destroyed in what Impey described as an "explosion" and were replaced by Granite State Electric, an electricity distribution subsidiary of National Grid and the sole power provider for buildings powered by the north substation.

Immediately after the outage, generators turned on to maintain emergency exit lights and card access readers in the buildings affected. In the McLaughlin cluster, hallway and study room lights were kept on. Other residences, including many of the houses on Webster Avenue, do not have generators, according to Impey.

Power was restored to buildings on the west campus while repairs were made to restore power to the north campus, which remained down for approximately an additional hour, Impey said.

A representative from Facilities, Operations and Management called Granite State shortly after the outage occurred requesting that they repair their lines.

Impey said that he did not believe there were precautions set up for this type of incident relating to squirrels.

Some students, such as Emily Jasinski '10 moved from their residence hall rooms to the hallway once the lights went out.

"We all sat in our rooms in the dark and then we came out [into the hallways] and the lights were on," Jasinski said. "So I came out here instead."

Jerry Gao '10 said he was unaffected by the outage.

"I was in my room doing nothing, and now I'm doing nothing," Gao said.