Counting down some of the weirdest power cuts the world has ever seen.
Modern society takes a reliable electricity supply as an inalienable right. But as the Blackout report shows, our power supplies are vulnerable.
There are several high-level risks that government, the power industry and other organisations try to mitigate against.
But it’s virtually impossible to protect against every potential threat to electricity. That’s particularly the case when the hazard comes from the most unexpected sources… Various animals, bungling criminals, out of control bin lorries and even angry footballers.
Here are 11 of the craziest causes of power cuts, kicking off with a handful of animal-initiated blackouts.
Lovebirds Cause Sparks To Fly
First up are two mating kookaburra birds in Western Australia.
Described by a spokesperson for Western Power as an “amorous avian adventure”, the birds were mating on a pole attached to a power line when one spread their winds and sadly acted as a conductor between two wires.
Around 1,000 homes lost power during the incident.
Turkey Ruffles A Few Feathers
On the Saturday of Easter Weekend 2020, more than 1,400 properties in Ottawa, Canada, were left without power after an escaped wild turkey got tangled in power lines.
Fallen Beehive Leaves Sting In The Tail
In June 2017, the honeycomb from a beehive rotted a tree branch that broke off and took down power lines in Bradford, Illinois.
The downtime wasn’t helped by the fact that the bees had state-protected status, so the recovery work was delayed whilst specialists were tracked down to remove the insects without harm.
Termites Leave Something To Chew On
Termites have caused several power cuts in Taiwan over the last few years. The most recent example comes from March 2019, where the pesky pests are said to have damaged underground cables in Kinmen County.
The damage caused an island-wide outage lasting for more than three hours.
Squirrel Scuppers Substation
More than 6,000 homes lost power in northeast Wichita, Kansas in December 2019 after a curious squirrel snuck into a substation and gnawed through crucial equipment and cables.
Some Other Unexpected Power Cut Causes
Away from these animal antics, there are plenty of other weird, strange or downright crazy causes of electrical outages.
Here are a handful of the most peculiar things that have ever caused power cuts.
Footballer’s Own Goal
A red card for semi-professional footballer Julius Muraga inadvertently led to a stadium blackout.
After Muraga received his marching orders for Kidlington Development in their Hellenic League Division One West clash at Cheltenham Saracans, he headed for an early bath.
But after flicking the switch for what he thought were the dressing room showers, the ground fell into darkness.
The furious footballer had accidentally turned the floodlights off instead!
Unfortunately for Muraga, the incident didn’t have a happy ending with the home team completing a 3-1 victory.
Thoughtless Thief Causes Bolton Blackout
A callous crook caused a power cut affecting more than 1,300 homes after breaking into an electricity substation to steal copper wire worth just £2.
The break-in resulted in a significant power surge at the substation, damaging appliances in many houses – as an example, 100 boilers went offline.
Engineers had to visit each affected property to check whether appliances were safe to use.
In all, the repairs cost more than £100,000.
In May 2017, a naked man caused a localised blackout after he jumped from a moving freight train near Topock in western Arizona.
After plummeting from the train, Joshua Daniel Reza allegedly broke water pipes near an electrical box, leading to power being lost on the private residence of a 72-year-old and 86-year-old couple.
A 2,000-strong neighbourhood in southern Florida was left without electricity after a bin lorry smashed into telegraph poles, causing one to topple over onto a building.
The power cut lasted for several hours.
Crane Collapses During Hurricane
Hurricane Dorian caused huge disruption back in September 2019. One example left thousands of people in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada in the dark.
A construction crane blew over, bringing down power lines as well as smashing into the side of an apartment building.