Siouxland Strange: Mr. Squirrel died doing what he loved

Siouxland Strange: Mr. Squirrel died doing what he loved

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Poor, poor squirrel

We should take heart that Mr. Squirrel died doing what he loved -- gnawing on electrical insulation and wreaking widespread havoc. 

A large swath of people and businesses in the vicinity of Hamilton Boulevard and Stone Park Boulevard lost power the morning of Feb. 2. 

MidAmerican Energy spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said the outage began around 9:45 a.m. The cause of the outage, she said, was "animal contact" with a power line that took out a substation. 

"I've heard squirrel," Hoffman said. Squirrels are commonly implicated in this type of incident due to their propensity for chewing on electrical insulation and their ability to maneuver easily into inappropriate and dangerous places. 

Nearby power lines caught fire and fell to the ground. Photos and videos of the incident circulating online showed extremely bright electric flashes, flames and billowing smoke near businesses and homes in the area. 

An estimated 4,300 people in the vicinity of Hamilton Boulevard between Stone Park Boulevard and Dearborn Boulevard lost power at the peak of the outage. All of them had their power restored by 5:29 p.m., just in time to watch the Super Bowl, which was at 5:30. 

A press release from the Sioux City Police Department indicated that, shortly after the first transformer at W 25th and Hamilton exploded, a second transformer exploded in the area of Dearborn and Valley Drive. 

Several Hamilton Boulevard traffic lights, including those at the intersections with Outer Drive, 36th Street, North Plaza and South Plaza, were switched off by the power disruption, causing them to flash. 

A segment of Hamilton Boulevard between West 24th Street and Dearborn Boulevard was shut down Sunday morning due to multiple downed and arcing power wires, along with blown-up transformers, according to a tweet from Sioux City Fire Rescue.

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