NJ Power Outage Had Unlikely Culprit

A fish fried a transformer, was likely dropped by a bird
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2023 12:45 PM CDT
NJ Power Outage Had Unlikely Culprit
The victim.   (Sayreville Police Department)

A power outage that cut electricity to a New Jersey community a week ago was due to an unlikely culprit—a fish that was apparently dropped by a bird and landed on a transformer, officials said. Sayreville police said Jersey Central Power and Light Company workers working on the Aug. 12 outage that cut power to a large area of Lower Sayreville found a fish on the transformer in the New Jersey community southwest of New York's Staten Island. "We are guessing a bird dropped it as it flew over," police said on their Facebook page. In a later post, the AP reports that they had a bit of fun, asking readers to remember the fish as "the victim in this senseless death," dubbing him "Gilligan" and calling him "a hard working family man" and "a father to thousands."

The suspect, they said, "was last seen flying south"—and readers were urged not to try to apprehend him because "although he isn't believed to be armed he may still be very dangerous." Jersey Central Power and Light Company spokesperson Chris Hoenig said animals—usually squirrels—are a common cause of power outages but "fish are not on the list of frequent offenders."

He said an osprey was probably to blame for the outage that affected about 2,100 Sayreville customers for less than two hours. Hoenig said the Sayreville area has a large presence of ospreys, which were on the state's endangered species list until less than a decade ago. The company has a very active osprey and raptor protection program that includes surveys and monitoring of nests and relocating nests that are on their equipment or too close to power lines, he said. Hoenig told CNN the company appreciates the patience of customers during the outage—but also has sympathy for the suspected avian that lost its lunch. "If you've ever dropped your ice cream cone at the fair, you know the feeling," he said. (More strange stuff stories.)

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