Crow Short-Circuits Power to 6,200 Homes

A crow roosting on power lines in the Santa Clarita Valley sparked a short circuit Friday morning that caused an underground vault to explode and cut power to about 6,200 homes.

The crow touched down on a 16,000-volt wire atop a power pole near the corner of Lyons Avenue and Wheeler Road about 5:55 a.m., said Rosalie Gnam, area manager for Southern California Edison. That short-circuited the wire and sent electricity surging back to an underground vault about 100 feet away, which holds three lines supplying power to about 6,200 homes and businesses, she said.

Overloaded, the vault beneath Lyons Avenue exploded. The blast blew away the vault’s one-ton metal-and-concrete roof and shot flames 25 feet into the air.

“It made it a pretty good-size pop,” Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Stephen King said. “It woke people up a block away.”


Firefighters extinguished the vault fire quickly, but power to about 2,100 homes south of Lyons was interrupted. Edison officials also shut down the other two lines in the vault while they made repairs, cutting power to another 4,100 customers, Gnam said.

Power was restored by 8:45 a.m.

There were no injuries--except the crow, which singed a few feathers. Gnam said the bird will be cared for until its flying feathers grow back, and then be released.