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Downed high-voltage lines cause fire near trailer park

Residents of a Mountain View mobile home park near Moffett Field were roused last night by a series of small "explosions," flashes of bright light and flames shooting high into the air the result of downed high-voltage electrical transmission lines, according to a PG&E official.

Three lines came down near the Microsoft campus off of La Avenida Street at about 9:23 p.m. on Jan. 12, according to PG&E spokeswoman Monica Tell.

The downed lines, which were carrying roughly 115 kilovolts each (and are orders of magnitudes more powerful than neighborhood electrical distribution lines) caused a brush fire and resulted in 372 PG&E customers losing power, Tell said.

The fire department put the fire out in short order and power was restored by 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 13.

Though there was no property damage, one of the park's residents was taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation from flaming foliage, according to Jaime Garrett, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View Fire Department.

Doris Duran, who lives in the Santiago Villa Mobile Home Park with her husband, Chuck, had recently gotten into bed when she first heard what she called a "poof -- like a little explosion -- and I saw a flash through the sky. I thought they were having fireworks over at the amphitheater."

Duran said she heard a second "poof" about a minute later, followed by another flash of light. After the second small explosion -- which she said "wasn't very loud" or forceful enough to be felt -- she looked out her window and saw flames shooting up near the south end of her mobile home park. She and her husband agreed that the flames stretched "a couple hundred feet" into the sky.

Duran said she and her husband live on the opposite side of the trailer park from where the fire occurred and that neither of them ever felt like they were in danger.

Tell said the lines fell after a piece of hardware, known as an "insulator," failed.

The insulator -- a series of descending ceramic disks -- is the point at which a power line connects to a given transmission tower, she explained. In this incident, the uppermost insulator failed, causing the top line to fall into to the two lower lines.

At the time of this publication, a portion of Stevens Creek Trail -- between the Crittenden and La Avenida entrances -- remained closed to the public, while crews continued to clean up the resulting damage from the downed lines. Police said the portion of trail would likely remain closed until Jan. 14.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by OldEditor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

"Her and her husband agreed"
" known as an "insulator," failed."

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH
Was this written by an English speaking reporter?
And who edited it?

From the viewpoint of witnesses who "live on the opposite side of the trailer park from where the fire occurred." Guess no one who actually saw the event was available...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mvresident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Mountain View Editor - Please inform your reporter, Nick Veronin, that Santiago Villa is not a "trailer park". We are a "mobile home" park, which is very, very different than a trailer park. None of our homes are trailers, they can not be towed...and some are even two-storied homes. It is a shame that a "journalist" made the decision to use a word that has negative connotations and is extremely insulting to those who live in a mobile home park.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I assume journalists do not take grammar in class anymore. Grammar is shamefully needed these days, as well as spelling.
At any rate, I was going to bed in my neighborhood that is fairly close and my lights flickered for a few moments.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jan 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Not surprised by this accident.

PG&E has a lot of old ceramic insulators that are operating beyond their rated life expectancy. We should expect more frequency of these sort of incidents in the upcoming years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

PG&E should be seized by the state. They epitomize murderous greed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Gemello
on Jan 16, 2012 at 12:36 am

I saw the flames and sparks as I drove by, I would estimate the flames at around 75-100 ft. It was pretty spectacular with the blackout it caused in the area and the flashing strobes going off in all the darkened Microsoft buildings.

I even called the cops but they said they were "on scene" already.

I'm glad it happened at night when no one (including myself) was using the trail.


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