Photo courtesy Ron Tuttle

ALTA SIERRA, Calif. August 24, 2018 – Mylar balloons caused a small fire and a power outage early this morning on Buck Ridge Road in Alta Sierra.

Firefighters were dispatched at 5:53 am this morning to a small roadside spot off Buck Ridge Road. PG&E crews, dispatched to a power outage, found the smoldering fire and started containing the spread of the 40 by 40 spot. Firefighters extinguished the fire completely and investigated the cause. They determined the fire was caused by Mylar balloons.

Photo courtesy Ron Tuttle

While this fire was contained rapidly and no damage to any homes was reported, the power outage disrupted residents’ morning routine and required a repair crew to restore power. Firefighters on scene located several balloons.

Stats and safety tips from PG&E

Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 456 power outages across PG&E’s service area in Northern and Central California, disrupting electric service to more than 371,000 homes and businesses. Unlike latex helium balloons, metallic balloons can stay inflated and floating for two to three weeks – posing a hazard to power lines and equipment even days after being released outside.

PG&E urges families celebrating with balloons to follow these important safety tips:

  • “Look Up and Live!” Use caution and avoid celebrating with metallic balloons near overhead electric lines.
  • Make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight – as required by California law – that is heavy enough to prevent them from floating away. Never remove the weight.
  • Keep metallic balloons indoors, when possible. For everyone’s safety, never permit metallic balloons to be released outside.
  • Do not bundle metallic balloons together.
  • Never attempt to retrieve any type of balloon, kite or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Leave it alone, and immediately call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the problem.
  • Never go near a power line that has fallen to the ground or is dangling in the air. Always assume downed electric lines are energized and extremely dangerous. Stay far away, keep others away and immediately call 911 to alert the police and fire departments.