Fishy circumstances cause power outage in Seattle

Dec 15, 2016, 1:05 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2019, 10:50 am
power outage...
A bird dropped a fish on power lines in South Seattle, causing a 2.5 hour power outage in the area. (Andy Morffew, Flickr)
(Andy Morffew, Flickr)

Seattle City Light has to respond to outages with a wide range of causes — birds, raccoons, tree branches. But a Wednesday power outage in South Seattle was a new one for the utility.

“I couldn’t believe it when I was talking to the dispatcher,” said City Light spokesperson Connie MacDougal. “I asked, routinely, what the cause of the outage was. He said, ‘Well, you’re not going to believe it.’ I said, ‘Was it a raccoon?’ He said, ‘No, a fish.’”

“It is rare,” she said. “I’ve been here 16 years and I’ve heard of raccoon-caused outages and many bird outages. But never a fish.”

‘Mistake’ causes massive downtown Seattle power outage

A bird apparently caught some lunch, likely from the nearby Duwamish River. But high in the sky, the fish fought for its freedom and won — briefly. The bird dropped the fish, which fell on some power lines below. It caused a power surge and, in turn, some fuses to blow. The result was a power outage for 172 customers that lasted about 2.5 hours.

“It just lost its grip on the fish at an inopportune time and dropped the fish on the power lines,” MacDougal said. “It basically caused a short … and the power went out and the fish was electrocuted.”

A witness to the incident was able to point crews to the scene of the power lines and the fried fish.

Last year, more than 160 birds caused similar power outages. Two bald eagles died after hitting power lines.

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Fishy circumstances cause power outage in Seattle