by Christopher Gripkey
The onsite SCE employee getting ready to replace the transformer after calling it in.
What does it take to kill power to most of downtown Tehachapi?
One well-placed crow.
That's right. If you were anywhere near Tehachapi Boulevard, from the La Quinta Inn – near the Highway 58 E. Tehachapi Blvd. exit – to K-Mart, the power outage from 8:45 to 10 a.m. was caused by one very unlucky crow.
Alexander Kunstmann, the owner of A-OK Computers, actually saw the incident and this is what he had to say:
"It was a transformer on a power line, perpendicular to Steuber Road and parallel to Tehachapi Boulevard, just behind La Quinta Inn. At first I thought it was the sun glaring from a house or something, but then it got bigger and brighter – 6 to 10 feet in diameter. It looked like a mini-sun and there was a lot of smoke. When it dimmed I knew it was a blown transformer. Then it did it again...."
When I found out Alex had actually seen which transformer had blown, I and a fellow employee jumped in the trusty Loop car to find it ourselves – and get a few pictures.
As you can see, the unlucky avian was barely visible on top of the transformer (I am sorry if some find this picture offensive).
While we were out on Steuber Road, a Southern California Edison (SCE) truck drove past our car and, after traveling down the street a bit, he did a U-turn and came to a stop near us. The gentleman came out of his truck and we told him which transformer we thought was affected and it turned out to be the right one. Once the technician knew which transformer it was he was kind enough to let me take a few pictures from a safe distance.
Ironically, at 10 a.m., I asked him when the power would be on. "Oh, that...I just had it remotely switched, everyone should have power now," he said, after getting off his cellphone. Isn't technology grand?
There were a few small exceptions though, according to that SCE employee; a few street lights on Tehachapi Boulevard and a weather station will be without power until about 1 p.m. today.
The transformer itself. It got so hot it literally burned off the black paint.
Before he began working on the transformer he asked us to leave for our safety and then thanked us (or more specifically Alex) for giving him an idea where to look.
"You guys saved me some time. Thank you," he said right before we left.
I personally was impressed with how courteous he was and SCE should be proud to have such a personable and professional technician working for them.