A Sunday evening power outage along Hampshire Street in northeast Bernal Heights may have been triggered by an errant drone. Or, the blackout may have had nothing whatsoever to do with a drone, but for some rather coincidental timing.
Neighbor Teresa reports:
Residents of Hampshire Street lost power at 5:04 tonight. 34 homes were affected. A few of the neighbors saw something kind of big hit the power pole at Hampshire and Peralta. There was a small explosion and all went dark.
Was it a plane? Was it a bird? Was it… a drone???
PG&E crews are searching the area around the power pole right now.
Looking for … THE DRONE!
Power was restored in about two hours. Thanks PGE! This is the best of you!
Neighbor Margo adds:
Power is out here in the Hampshire sector of Bernalwood. Apparently some guys flew their drone into the power lines on the pole at the corner of Peralta and Hampshire. The explosion was impressive enough that my husband Lynn thought it was right outside our house, which is a half-block away.
Some of the neighbors told me that a few guys came looking for the drone, but when they realized it had caused a power outage, they said were looking for their friend’s drone. The PG&E guy said that he hadn’t heard of this happening before. So it might be a first. Probably won’t be the last.
But wait, did this even happen at all? Was a drone to blame? We shouldn’t be so sure.
The title of SFGate’s story provides the first clue that this tale should be approached with skepticism: “Did wayward drone knock out power in Bernal Heights?” That right there is a classic instance of Betteridge’s Law, the truism that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no.’ (Please find lots more examples of Betteridge’s Law here.)
And then, of course, there are the actual facts: Apparently, no one actually saw a drone hit the power line, and no drone was recovered from the scene. From SFGate:
A witness, Scott Kurth, was working at his computer when he saw a flash of light and heard a loud pop on a power pole at the intersection of Peralta Avenue and Hampshire Street, in the northern corner of Bernal Heights. The power went out in 34 homes at 5:04 p.m, according to PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi.
Kurth did not see the impact but said a few minutes later that a man in his 30s came running up and admitted he had lost control of a drone he was flying at a nearby playground.
“He was talking to us, and we were looking for the drone with flashlights,” Kurth said. When PG&E arrived, the drone pilot moved on, Kurth said.
After power was restored, the crew searched for the drone but could not find any evidence of it, Guidi said.
PHOTO: PG&E crew working on power outage on Hampshire last night, courtesy of Neighbor Teresa