FL - Squirrel manages to disrupt Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast phones

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FL - Squirrel manages to disrupt Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast phones

Staff reports Web-posted: 12:04 a.m. Feb. 10, 2001

A squirrel managed to disrupt a network of wireless phone service Friday across much of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, inconveniencing customers and disrupting businesses that rely on the technology. An official at Nextel Communications said a squirrel chewed through a cable in West Palm Beach that carries calls in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. Service went down about 1:50 p.m. and was not restored until about 6 p.m. It was unclear exactly how many customers were affected by the squirrel. ¶ "We rely on cables for wireless, everybody does," Nextel spokeswoman Michele Pinnau told The Stuart/Port St. Lucie News. "The phones are wireless. The system is not wireless."


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), February 11, 2001


I thought these cables ran underground. A new species at work here: subterranean squirrel.

-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), February 11, 2001.

I understand that the squirrel's name was Chad, and that he was hanging at the time!


-- K. (infosurf@yahoo.com), February 11, 2001.

Squirrels turn out the lights 02/11/01 Brien Boyce brien t. boyce Herald Staff Writer When a squirrel gets electrocuted in powerlines, they can cause more problems than people are aware of.

“Although we have several things that we use, people have to understand that nothing is 100 percent squirrel-proof,” said Sam Spilman, supervisor of power quality and reliability for Progress Energy in Raleigh. Spilman explained the two biggest problem areas for animals to be electrocuted are the transformer, which sits on top of the pole, and the substations, which is surrounded by a wire mesh fence.

The first preventative measure is called a “squirrel guard”. When put on the transformer, it is supposed to make to wires harder to reach and has been, for the most part, successful. However, Spilman said, there are some squirrels which tend to get pretty big, thus rendering the squirrel guard useless.

The next two measures involve the substation. The added protection is neccessary since the substations takes the transmission line, which is a very high voltage line, reduces the voltage and distributes the voltage out to the streets and eventually into the home.

“What we have done is to put a tighter mesh fence around the perimeter,” Spilman said, but can still allow smaller animals, such as mice and snakes to fit. So the electric company’s next step is to put a big solid disk behind the insulator. Again, he said, there are still some animals who manage to get through and still get electrocuted.

The good news from all of this is when an animal electrocutes itself, there is a fuse-type mechanism built into the transformer which shorts out, which has kept the total number of minutes during an outage low — four percent during the entire year of 2000 in the Raleigh area, Stilman said.

The year 2000 also saw around 30,000 outages in Raleigh, 10 percent of which, or roughly 3,000 outages were the result of animals. “With all of the preventative measures that we keep coming up with, animals will always find a way to get past it,” Stilman noted.

If an animal has electrocuted itself but remains on the power lines and is till causing outages, call the electric company. Do not attempt to remove the animal or to knock it loose with rocks, as the animal can hit more power lines and cause more problems.

A representative from Dominion Power was called but was unable to be reached for comment. http://news.mywebpal.com/news_tool_v2.cfm? pnpid=778&show=archivedetails&ArchiveID=224243&om=1

-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), February 16, 2001.

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