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Bay Area Power Outages Blamed On Copper Thieves, Downed Trees

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Utility workers repair a power line. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Utility workers repair a power line. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (KCBS)—PG&E is investigating the possibility that copper thieves were to blame for a power outage in Oakland’s Fruitvale District on Tuesday night. Meanwhile a fallen tree in San Francisco has caused an outage for residents there.

Power lines were about 11:20 p.m. on a power pole at Coliseum Way and High Street to, presumably to steal copper wire. The high-voltage lines, however, set the pole on fire causing the outage for nearly 1,800 customers that lasted about an hour.

Oakland’s Fire Station #13 at 12th Street and Derby Ave. had to rely on generator power for an hour.

PG&E spokesperson Jana Morris said the company has seen over 2,500 incidents of copper or metal theft that has resulted in the loss of $5.5 million from 2005 to 2012.

“People that are attempting to steal the copper or metal or vandalize the equipment are truly risking their lives and safety. In many cases this equipment is energized.” she said.

While most of the power was restored within the hour in Oakland, hundreds of customers in San Francisco’s Ingleside District were not as lucky as a power there was cut after a tree fell into powers near Grafton and Jules Avenues on Tuesday night about 11 p.m.

A total of 2,508 customers were initially without power, but crews were quickly able to restore power to all but 592 customers, Molica said.

By about 8:25 a.m. Wednesday, all but 22 customers had power again, and PG&E hopes to restore power to the remaining customers by 12:30 p.m., Molica said.

He said it was unclear what caused the tree to fall.

The fallen tree also briefly blocked the 29-Sunset line, and Muni rerouted buses around the area. Normal service resumed early Wednesday morning, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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