Press Club

Balloons caused large power outage in Arlington yesterday

Dominion on scene of power pole fire in 2020 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An early morning power outage Tuesday left more than 2,000 Dominion customers in the dark. The culprit: balloons.

The incident prompted Dominion Energy to remind residents about the danger posed by those metallic balloons one might buy in a grocery or party supply store.

“In the overnight hours mylar balloons came in contact with our power lines causing a short circuit or power surge which put 2,085 customers in the dark,” Dominion spokeswoman Peggy Fox tells ARLnow. “The balloons damaged a circuit which had to be replaced.  Fortunately, there was no fire and our crews were able to gradually switch customers to other circuits.’

“Power was restored to all of those customers by 5 a.m. — in under three hours from when the outage began,” she added.

Letting balloons fly up into the sky may seem harmless — and in the case of balloons held by young children, it’s sometimes hard to avoid — but aside from the fact that the balloons eventually come down and end up as litter, mylar balloons in particular pose an acute danger on the way up.

“Mylar balloons have a metallic coating that conducts electricity,” Fox explains. “When they touch power lines they can cause large-scale outages, melting of electrical wires and even fires. It’s happened across the country.”

“We would ask people to not release any balloons outside and to dispose of them properly,” she said.

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