Mylar balloons that got tangled in an overhead power line in an East County neighborhood caused the cable to overload, break and fall onto the roadside below today, setting fire to a row of parked cars and leaving thousands of homes and businesses temporarily without electrical service.
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The non-injury incident in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue in El Cajon occurred shortly after 7 a.m., according to San Diego Gas & Electric.
The live 12-kilovolt power line dropped onto a line of unoccupied vehicles, scorching and burning them until utility crews were able to deactivate it, SDG&E spokesman Hanan Eisenman said.
Police advised residents in the immediate area to stay indoors until the severed cable was no longer a threat.
The mishap initially left 2,116 addresses without electrical service. By late morning, SDG&E personnel had restored power to all but about 950 of them, and those customers were back on line by late afternoon, the utility reported.
Because they conduct electricity, Mylar balloons are an "ongoing problem for overhead power lines," Eisenman said. Authorities ask people who use the decorative toys to keep them indoors and deflate them before trashing them, the spokesman noted.
SDG&E sent claims adjusters to the neighborhood to inspect the 10 damaged vehicles and discuss reimbursement procedures with the owners, Eisenman said.
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