FREMONT -- A balloon that flew into a power line knocked out power to more than 5,700 PG&E customers over the weekend -- some for as long as 12 hours, a spokeswoman for the utility company said.

The helium-filled metallic balloon flew into a set of wires in the 3300 block of Beard Road in Fremont about 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, shutting down power for 5,735 customers, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Monday.

As of 4:15 p.m. all but 447 customers had their power restored, Sarkissian said.

Power was restored to the remaining customers by 2:18 a.m. on Monday.

"Because it was such a significant job and because it we had to replace the power line it did take an extended period of time," Sarkissian said. "An incident like this is very simple to prevent but can do significant damage."

She said the company urges customers to "think safety first" and securely tie a weight to all metallic balloons containing helium to prevent them from floating away. Metallic balloons that contact overhead power lines can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage and potentially result in serious personal injuries.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.



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