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Palmdale warns faulty streetlight wiring could be a shock hazard in the rain

Palmdale warns faulty streetlight wiring could be a shock hazard in the rain
A utility worker installs a streetlight in Palmdale. Authorities have warned the public to avoid streetlight poles in the rain because of wiring problems in some poles that could deliver an electric shock to people. (City of Palmdale)

Authorities in Palmdale are warning the public to avoid city streetlight poles during this week’s storms because of wiring problems that could deliver an electric shock to people when the lights are on in the rain.

Officials have estimated that roughly 130 of the city’s 18,000 streetlights have exposed pinched wires, which could shock people or pets that make contact with them, said city spokesman John Mlynar.

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It’s unclear what caused the damage, but the problem potentially affects 12,875 poles that carry newly installed 47-watt LED bulbs, he said. Of those, crews have inspected 1,000 and fixed the ones that had crimped and exposed wiring.

“When it’s raining, stay away,” Mlynar said. “Don’t touch the pole, don’t touch wires.”

The city discovered the problem Jan. 15 when a resident reported a blown-out streetlight. Crews opened up the light fixture and authorities launched the citywide inspection.

The wiring problem doesn’t affect traffic lights.

Authorities don’t know when they will complete the inspection but said the city has brought in additional utility crews to speed up the process.

“We want this done as quickly as possible,” Mlynar said.

The warnings came ahead of three back-to-back winter storms expected to pound Southern California this week.

The first storm, arriving late Wednesday and continuing into Thursday, will be fairly light — dropping between a quarter of an inch and an inch of rain in Los Angeles County. Possible thunderstorms Thursday could bring heavier rain to some regions, said Lisa Phillips, a meteorologist intern with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The region will have a short break from wet weather during the day Friday before a stronger system moves into the region that night. That storm has the potential to bring gusty southeast winds up to 60 mph and dump 1 to 3 inches of rain through Saturday in Los Angeles County. It may also bring snow to higher elevations.

Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

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