- The raccoon passed ‘wildlife protective equipment’ to enter the substation
- When authorities arrived after the explosion, the animal was ‘not doing well’
- It happened at 4:30 am, and power was restored to all 43,000 affected by 6 am
- Wildlife believed to be the cause of about nine per cent of area power outages
A huge explosion at a Tennessee power plant plunged more than half of West Knoxville Tennessee into a blackout early Thursday morning. And authorities say that the explosion was caused by a raccoon.
A spokesperson for the Knoxville Utility Board (KUB) told Knox News that the raccoon caused the massive 43,000 customer blackout because it was at an ‘infeed’ substation which routes electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority to several KUB substations.
KUB spokesperson Stephanie Midgett said that substation is equipped with ‘wildlife protective equipment’ which she defined as ‘insulated pieces that help prevent wildlife from being able to make contact.’ But somehow the raccoon got in at an unprotected point.
Raccoons, like the one in this file video, are nocturnal, so they are out at night looking for food
It is believed that the explosion and subsequent blackout were the result of one wrong step on the raccoon’s part. Authorities think it touched ‘two parts of substation, one with electricity flowing through it and the other, grounded. The creature completed a circuit and … boom.’
Midgett says that when officials arrived they found the raccoon ‘actually alive, but not well’. It later succumbed to its injuries.
Power was restored to everyone affected by 6am.
This may not be as unusual as it seems. According to KUB, approximately 9 per cent of outages are caused by wildlife.
The substation seen here carries power from the TVA to customers all over Tennessee
The explosion seen here was caused when a raccoon took a wrong step, completing a circuit