South Carolina

A week before Christmas, squirrel shuts down power to mall, thousands more, Duke says

A squirrel caused a power outage that affected more than 4,000 Duke Energy customers, including a shopping mall.
A squirrel caused a power outage that affected more than 4,000 Duke Energy customers, including a shopping mall. gjefferies@bradenton.com

With Christmas fast approaching, shoppers at a South Carolina mall got an unpleasant surprise Tuesday.

The shopping center lost power, according to a Facebook post from Anderson Mall.

The mall was one of thousands of Duke Energy customers to lose power for about two hours in the morning, spokesman Ryan Mosier said in an interview with The State.

The cause of the blackout? It was a squirrel, according to Mosier.

“A squirrel got into a substation and caused a safety system to engage,” Mosier said of the chain of events which caused the power outage.

More than 4,000 Duke Energy customers were in the dark for the duration of the outage, company spokesperson Grace Roundtree told The State. She said power was restored around 11:45 a.m.

But for the time prior, customers at the mall were unable to shop at some stores, WYFF reported.

Mosier said the outage affected a mix of commercial and residential customers in the Upstate region of South Carolina.

The loss of power also impacted traffic lights, according to WHNS. Police had to help direct traffic, WYFF reported.

As for the squirrel that caused the outage, it was not a happy ending, according to Mosier who told The State the squirrel died.

“The outcome is never good for wildlife in these situations,” Mosier told The State, adding it is not uncommon for “small wildlife like birds, snakes and rodents like squirrels,” to get into mechanical equipment and cause problems.

The incident was resolved when the safety system was manually reset at the substation, Mosier said.

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Video: A time-lapse sequence shows several squirrels stuffing themselves from a purportedly "squirrel proof" bird feeder. The birds are NOT happy.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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