ANTIOCH - An owl was the culprit behind downed power lines that appear to have sparked a 2-acre vegetation fire in Antioch and knocked out power for more than 4,700 PG&E customers on Wednesday night, utility and fire officials said today.

The outage in parts of East Antioch and Oakley was reported at 9:47 p.m. after an owl made contact with power lines in Antioch near the Oakley border, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said.

The animal contact downed PG&E wires, which apparently sparked a vegetation fire around 9:48 p.m. near the intersection of Willow Avenue and Oakley Road, according to Fire Marshal Robert Marshall of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

The fire quickly grew from about half an acre to 2 acres due to strong winds, Marshall said.

Crews were able to get the blaze under control in about 40 minutes and prevented it from spreading to nearby homes, he said.

Power was restored to all but 68 PG&E customers within an hour, and all customers had the power back on by 5:45 a.m., Sarkissian said.

She said PG&E has an Aviation Protection Plan Program in place aimed at protecting birds from power equipment and averting bird-related outages like the one that occurred Wednesday night.

According to the utility, birds cause about 4 percent of PG&E's system-wide power outages.


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