By Michael J. ARVIZU
A powerful early spring storm moving through the area on Wednesday afternoon was responsible for two incidents of downed power lines in Sunland, causing about 744 Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power customers to lose power.
In one incident, lightning struck power lines in the 10500 block of N. Woodward Avenue in Sunland at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard, causing traffic to snarl along Foothill as firefighters cordoned off portions of the intersection to keep bystanders and vehicles away.
The call of downed power lines at the intersection came in to the Los Angeles Fire Dept. at about 3:07 p.m., said LAFD spokeswoman Katherine Main, a few minutes after a powerful storm cell moved through the area, bringing with it heavy rain, hail and high winds. Wednesday afternoon’s storm was forecast to roll through Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the heaviest rain expected on Wednesday.
“Lightning will hit the wires, and the wires will just pop,” said LAFD Capt. Chris Bustamante.
The power line that was hit at the intersection has a capacity upward of 25,000 volts, he said.
No businesses on Foothill Boulevard lost power, though, due to the grid-like nature of the power line system. In a surge, Bustamante said, the system is designed to isolate certain areas of the neighborhood causing it, and not others, to lose power.
Witnesses of the strike reported seeing an orange glow followed by a loud thunderclap.
A combination of high winds, heavy rain and possible lightning caused power lines to fall in the 8000 block of W. Apperson Street in Sunland, Main said. That call came in to LAFD at 3:16 p.m.
As of 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Apperson Street was closed at Parr and Scoville avenues while DWP repair crews worked to repair the downed lines, Main said.
A third incident turned out to be a false alarm, said Main.
DWP crews were working to restore power but, according to a spokesperson, did not have an estimate as to when it would be restored.
Bustamante said the best thing residents coud do if they encounter a downed power is to call 911 and “not try to get anywhere near it.”