Updated, 8/20/20, 8:45 a.m.
A squirrel likely building a nest at the Mill Creek power substation led to a large electricity outage in Walla Walla’s east side this morning, a Pacific Power spokesperson said.
Tom Gauntt, media spokesperson for the utility company, said squirrels are difficult to deal with because their nests can be well-hidden. He said the likely scenario, which they see often, is that the squirrel became a conduit between two electrical lines, which led to the power failure.
Almost 4,600 Pacific Power customers are without power this morning, according to the utility company’s outage website. The outage started at about 7:35 a.m.
An automated email message was sent to customers and said power was estimated to be restored at around 11 a.m.
Gauntt said his workers on the ground estimated about 10:45 a.m. for power restoration for some people, but he said others would probably have to wait.
In some instances, they can reroute power from another area to help get some people back online, but others may have to wait until the substation is fully operational again, Gauntt said.