Snacking squirrel shuts down substation

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A rogue rodent’s to blame for Monday afternoon’s outage that knocked out a Kilgore substation and left more than 2,200 local SWEPCO customers in the dark for about an hour-and-a-half.

“Yes, the outage was caused by an animal. Specifically, a squirrel,” according to SWEPCO’s Karen Wissing. “Animals are one of the top five causes of power outages.”

Service was interrupted for an estimated 2,238 customers, residential and commercial, at 3:27 p.m. The power utility’s crews beat an initial four-hour repair estimate and restored power to most customers at 4:55 p.m.

In the meantime, Kilgore Police Officers worked with City of Kilgore streets employees to put caution signs at traffic lights that were impacted and did not have backup power.

A SWEPCO maintenance team was soon on-site at a substation off Hwy. 259 and quickly discovered the source of the breakdown.

“Typically the animal is biting or chewing on the energized line while touching a ground or another energized piece of equipment,” Wissing confirmed.

During an outage, reports can be submitted online via swepco.com/outages. Customers will also find a map with details on the number of customers without power, the start time of the outage, estimated restoration and, when available, the cause.

As of press time Tuesday, SWEPCO’s website showed no customers in the Kilgore area were without power.

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