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Unitil: Squirrel tripped breaker, resulting in fire, outage

Union Leader Correspondent

January 04. 2017 5:45PM
A squirrel came into contact with a transformer in Exeter on Wednesday and caused a fire that cut power to more than 5,000 Unitil customers. (Unitil)

EXETER — A wild scene unfolded in Exeter on Wednesday afternoon when a squirrel tripped a breaker at an electrical substation, causing a small fire that cut power to thousands of Unitil customers.

The power went out just before 4 p.m. and affected more than 5,000 customers in Exeter and Kensington.

Exeter Police reported on Twitter that about three-fourths of the town was in the dark, including the downtown area.

Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said the preliminary cause of the fire and outage was animal contact at the transformer, specifically a squirrel.

O’Meara said the contact opened a breaker at the substation, which caused power to go out. Crews worked to isolate and switch around the problem to restore power by 5 p.m.

While there was some fire damage to the transformer, the substation sustained no significant damage, according to O’Meara.

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