CHATSWORTH, Ill. (WCIA)–People in Chatsworth and Cullom were left in the dark when their power went out Tuesday afternoon.
When Ameren went to investigate, they found pieces of Mylar balloons near the substation. Those balloons are metallic and conduct electricity, which officials said caused three fuses to blow, resulting in the entire power grid to fail.
The power first went out right before 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. One woman in town says she was making her mom lunch when everything shut off.
“It’s not something that happens often,” Robin Reinitz said. “Ameren’s been good to us as a power supplier, they work as good and as quickly as they can to get everything stored right away.”
And while the power outage initially caught her off guard, Reinitz said she was already prepared.
“We had power because she’s got a full home generator. So we lucked out there.”
Ameren crews came from Mattoon to fix the substation later that afternoon. The power was back on at 5:30, but by then, it cost plenty of local businesses half a work day.
“The minute the power goes off, everything goes off. The computers, our systems, even our telephone goes off. We were just completely shut down,” Floral Dehm, who works for Henrich Insurance in Chatsworth said. “We had people calling, wondering why we weren’t here. Some people called today asking why we weren’t answering. ‘What happened, why didn’t you get back to us’?”
Ameren officials say many of these power outages caused by balloons come from people celebrating special occasions. They say to keep them tethered to the ground at all times, and to pop them first when you’re done using them, because if not, it can get tangled in electrical equipment as it floats away.