Mylar balloon starts fire, power outage
2 other blazes slow SR 99 to crawl
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Firefighters battle a grass fire on Granada and Riverview drives late Monday afternoon.
A Mylar balloon flew into power lines around Riverview and Granada drives, causing a transformer to blow around 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to Madera police and residents.
That started a grass fire and an outage, which Pacific Gas & Electric said initially left 1,827 residents of northwest Madera without electricity. Also blacked out were Walmart, Lowe's, Grocery Outlet and other stores.
Cal Fire was able to quickly snuff the flames, police said.
At the same time, a grass fire burned along a canal bank by the freeway and near Road 26 and the the Ellis Street overpass. Firefighters and PG&E responded. A third fire also lifted a plume of black smoke by the freeway on Schnoor Street, just north of the Ellis overpass.
Northbound traffic on State Route 99 was backed up to a crawl in Madera.
Traffic lights at the intersection of Schnoor and Kennedy streets stayed lit but appeared to malfunction early on during the outage, leaving traffic congested and drivers seeking alternate routes.
Power was restored to some around 6:30 p.m., according to residents. But traffic lights at Schnoor and Kennedy streets remained blacked out into the evening, Madera Police Cpl. Nick Webster said.
The local Grocery Outlet offered a coupon via Facebook for those affected by its downtime.