Squirrel blamed for power outage

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COEUR d'ALENE - A squirrel did it.

For the 2,099 Avista customers who found themselves without power Wednesday morning for around an hour, that's the animal to blame.

It's the one whose tiny feet or bushy tail or both brushed up against a lightning arrester on a power line near Ninth Street and Sherman Avenue around 9 a.m., the force of which shorted out the arrester and knocked out power for more than 2,000 customers around town, according to Sarah Richards, Avista communication specialist.

A lightning arrester is a device used on electrical power systems that protects the systems from high voltage if lightning strikes them. Electrical companies also have squirrel guards to protect systems from squirrels. In this case, the later didn't protect the former from the squirrel, and the lights went out around breakfast time.

It's not unheard of for creatures, even small ones, to disrupt the system.

"A lot of times animals do cause outages," Richards said.

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