Squirrel causes citywide power outage in LaFayette

Published 3:33 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The city of LaFayette suffered a day-long, city-wide blackout after an early morning incident involving a squirrel.

Randy Norred with City of LaFayette Light & Power said around 7:30 a.m. CST a squirrel had gotten onto a Gain Switch in uptown LaFayette and went “phase to phase,” blowing out the fuses at Substation 1.

That also caused a fault inside the system that burned out a lot of wire and conductors inside the substation.

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“Basically we lost everything in that substation. Can’t use it,” he said.

David Drake, with the City of LaFayette Street Department actually saw the inciting incident.

“It was like a big sun shining and it was just burning you know. A big ole fireball. Biggest one I’ve every seen,” he said, noting the fireball lasted several minutes.

Crews eventually isolated the substation and went about switching the line over to Substation 2 at the Industrial Park.

“We only got two people so we’re going to running for about two or three more hours,” Norred said at 12:30 CST that day.

Despite confidence that power would be returned that afternoon, the citizens of LaFayette were left wondering what to do.

With Tuesday being an election day many were attempting to enter the courthouse. Everyone encountered the same sign, “Courthouse Closed Due To Power Outage.”

City officials were left in the dark, only saying they were without power and had to close the courthouse until power returned.

People kept showing up to take care of business, many wanting to vote.

Adding to this confusion were the the theories over what had happened, with the only common thread being that a substation had blown.

One person said the nearby solar farm had been connected to the power grid and an issue there caused the blowout.