Balloons knock out power in downtown Carson |

Balloons knock out power in downtown Carson

Rex Bovee and Jeff Munson

A freak power outage – only seconds after midnight in downtown Carson City – was caused by New Year’s party balloons caught in power lines, officials said this morning.

“I can’t believe it. The power did go out,” said Lorie Hebler, an employee at the Ormsby House.

The outage affected portions of Curry Street from 10th Street to Fifth Street and left the Ormsby House Hotel and Casino and the Carson Station Hotel- Casino powerless for nearly an hour. The lights came back on at 12:57 a.m.

The outage was not Y2K-related, officials with the state’s Emergency Operation Center confirmed this morning.

The outage was caused by New Year’s revelers who released balloons outside the Timbers Saloon, 124 E. 8th St, officials said. Power company workers found remains of metalized Mylar entangled in trees above the tavern.

Carson City District Attorney Noel Waters, who was near the Emergency Operating Center at the time of the outage, said witnesses told him there was “a large flash” when the balloons struck the lines.

The outage may have also triggered several false fire alarms when power was restored, keeping crews busy turning off the alarms around the affected areas

Sierra Pacific Power Co. crews were dispatched to a power substation behind Carson Station on Curry Street, where they reset breakers tripped by the balloons. All power was restored within a hour.

The outage came a shock to some 500 guests at a private ball at the Ormsby House. Moments after revelers counted down seconds to the New Year, the ballroom went completely dark.

Guests said a generator kicked in shortly after the power outage, but it apparently failed a few minutes later and plunged the hotel into darkness again.

Just minutes after the outage, a pedestrian was struck by a car across from the Ormsby House in the area affected by the power outage.

The victim, whose identity was not known at press time, was taken to Carson-Tahoe Hospital. The victim apparently hit the windshield of a Toyota Turcel before landing on the pavement. No life support measures were used on the victim and the accident was under investigation by the Nevada Highway Patrol.