It was a dark and misty night. Electricity was in the air. And in the street. And everywhere….

Ok, ladies and gentlemen, PSE & G now has an official explanation for one of yesterday’s live-wire fires in Montclair. The mist did it.

According to spokesperson Renee DiNardi, the fire that lit up the sky (and burned the road) on Gordonhurst last night is a direct result of a problem called “tracking.” Not problems tracking down a PSE & G serviceperson, but a condition called tracking where a wire shorts out due to wet weather. It seems that ice or misty rain like we experienced last night creates an alternate path for electricity to flow from the wire to the wooden pole, causing a fire that results in a live wire falling to the ground.

“During rainy weather, the rain washes away debris that may have been accumulating on equipment and this contributes to tracking,” DiNardi said.

Contrary to initial reports, the Gordonhurst fire did not involve a transformer. Just a live wire. You know, like the first live wire that fell and incinerated a car at Watchung Center earlier in the day. Oh that’s reasurring. La la la.

Although residents of the area were reporting the flash of light in the sky as early as 8:35 pm, the PSE & G crew didn’t arrive arrive until 10 pm to cut power to the wire. The delay in response, says DiNardi, was a result of crews responding to other service outages throughout the area. Seems it rained, or misted, elsewhere.

No explanation for first live wire incident, still under investigation.

Nobody was hurt by either blaze, but here are the stats for inconvenience. Following the first fire, some 1,800 customers lost power for little over an hour. After the second fire, power was cut in segments: 70 customers were without power for a little more than three hours; 960 lost power for a half and 140 lost power for about 90 minutes.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.

13 replies on “PSE & $#@&!(*@(*!”

  1. OK, when this same thing happened to a transformer in our back yard this summer, it was blamed on the heat. I guess you can blame the weather for just about anything!

  2. > How do they get up so high so that they can gnaw on the wires?
    The only explanation I’ve been able to find is that they are mist-borne.

  3. Gotta love the mist. Fascinating stuff. Next thing we’ll be hearing is that the “buzz” we hear when power lines are damp causes household pets to urinate on carpeting.

  4. Regarding Pavlovian urination and power lines — I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous, Tom.
    But please be careful around your clothes iron at home and the produce aisle at the supermarket. The mist is everywhere.

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