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Ruined, Damaged Appliances Blamed on Power Surge

August 22, 1991|DUKE HELFAND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The voltage surge immediately before Saturday night's power failure in Culver City destroyed or seriously damaged hundreds of electrical appliances, and Southern California Edison Co. officials say the utility expects to pay for repair or replacement in at least some cases.

Edison workers distributed 500 claim forms early this week, according to spokesman Steve Hansen. Residents who experienced damage and have not received forms can call the appropriate number on their electric bills for more information.

"We are reviewing claims and will make payment on a case-by-case basis," Hansen said.

After first indicating that a raccoon had caused the power failure, Edison officials this week said further investigation was necessary.

The trouble began about 9:30 p.m. Saturday at a switch on a power pole at Overland Avenue and Farragut Drive. The switch, which controls voltage and distribution of power, burned out and caused a 16,000-volt power line to fall onto a 4,000-volt line. Officials believe that voltage surged, causing explosions that could be seen from homes half a mile away.

The power failure left 8,500 residents west of Overland Boulevard and south of Culver Boulevard without electricity for up to four hours, Edison officials said. Traffic lights were disabled along Overland Avenue between Washington and Jefferson boulevards and several other nearby intersections.

The surge blew out light bulbs, televisions, VCRs, microwave ovens and other electrical equipment in many homes, and set off a rash of burglar alarms.

Grayridge Drive resident Belinda Leve said she lost a stereo system and some components of her computer system, together worth as much as $500. Her neighbor, Mark Kiefer, lost a microwave and VCR worth about $700, he said.

Baffled residents flooded police with calls on Saturday night.

"My computer made a hissing sound and the screen kept flickering on and off, like something right out of 'Poltergeist,' " Leve said. "It was like we were waiting for something to blow up."

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