AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thousands of Austin Energy customers were without power Friday morning as crews hustled to restore the power.
"We've had a record number of pole fires and the condition that creates that is a lack of rain," explained Ed Clark, a spokesperson for Austin Energy.
On its Twitter page , AE said around 5,000 customers were without electricity and that 50 power pole fires related to dirt and moisture were reported overnight. Sixteen crews worked made repairs to 75 locations to restore power.
By 11:30, power was restored to all Austin Energy customers.
"Dust and dirt builds up on the system on the little devices that attach a power line to the power pole," explained Clark. "That dirt and dust when it's misty can sort of jell and create track down that little device then the power goes from that power line down that little track of material to the power pole and that causes a fire."
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative and Dallas-based Oncor also reported about 1,000 customers in Pflugerville were without power.
Carlos Cordova with Austin Energy said the outages are being caused by a buildup of dust on power poles getting wet from recent rains. Cordova says when the dust is moistened it forms into mud that seeps into electrical lines.
Friday morning the phenomenon caused several pole fires, one in the 11005 block of Burnet cut power to Donut-7 , and many more along Lamar Boulevard. The owners of Donut-7 say they have been at the location since 1993 and have never had issues like this.
"I was scared you know it might blow up and make a fire, it might burn this building or something like that," said Young Shinn, one of the owners of Donut-7.
Austin Energy has crews throughout the area making necessary repairs which will require brief power outages.
The outages reported thus far seem to be affecting areas in north Austin along Burnet and Lamar as well as portions in the south along areas of Highway 71.
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