Drone caused power outage in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Neighbourhood

Drone caused power outage in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Neighbourhood

PG&E is investigating what appears to be the first power outage in San Francisco caused by a drone on Sunday night.

About three dozen homes in Bernal Heights lost power. “We heard a loud explosion,” Teresa Kennett said.

Kennett said she and her neighbors believe a power pole at Peralta Avenue and Hampshire Street in Bernal Heights was hit by a drone just after 5 p.m., causing their lights to go out. “Someone was flying a drone in the neighborhood and lost it or it crashed and they came over here looking for it,” she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates one million Americans received recreational drones for Christmas. Now you can add them to kites and balloons as potential headaches for utilities like PG&E. “They could in essence cause not just a power outage, but even a power line to come down and potentially a fire,” PG&E spokesperson Joe Molica said.

For some people in Bernal Heights, like the Salasko family, the outage was more like a surge. “Power went out for about 90 seconds and then came back on,” one woman said.

PG&E restored everyone’s power within two hours after replacing a section of the damaged line.

The utility company also looked for the drone, but like the neighbors came up empty.

The FAA is trying to regulate the recreational drone boom by requiring owners to register models that weigh more than half a pound up to 55 pounds. PG&E believes the Bernal Heights incident offers a safety lesson.

“What’s important if folks do see something tangled in a power line to never attempt to retrieve it, call PG&E right away,” Molica said.

Officials said the drone’s pilot has not been identified.


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