A suspected drunken driver rammed into a power pole in Fort Bragg late Friday night, causing a power outage that affected up to 5,200 PG&E customers, officials said.
The blackout, which occurred at at 11:22 p.m., brought Fort Bragg police officers to the area of Madrone and Whipple streets, where they found the crash.
At the scene, officers noticed a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban trying to drive away, police said. Officers had to maneuver through the downed lines to get to the vehicle, which had been badly disabled from the crash.
The driver, Jonatan Sastre-Cordova, 35, of Fort Bragg, appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, police said.
Police said Cordova was driving eastbound on Madrone Street when he hit a parked car, sending it 10 feet onto the sidewalk. Cordova's SUV traveled another 30 feet before it struck and sheared off a main PG&E pole that was critical to the area's electrical grid.
Cordova's vehicle was badly damaged and its front passenger tire was torn away from the axle, police said. The front end of the SUV was badly damaged.
Police Sgt. Brandon Lee said that when the pole came down, it “yanked a lot of other poles at different intersections” because of the tension in the line. The chain reaction caused a five-block radius of power lines to come down, police said.
“One of the lines that snapped flipped up and over another power line” that supplied power to a separate electrical grid, Lee said.
“It's a big mess from one guy driving under the influence of alcohol,” he said.
After police and fire crews secured the area, PG&E crews arrived at the scene at about 2 a.m. to begin repairs.
PG&E spokeswoman Jana Schuering said that initially, 2,600 customers were affected by the outage. But the number grew to 5,200 because of the extensive damage.
“Throughout the night and morning we've been able to pick up all but 1,600 customers,” Schuering said.
By 9:30 a.m. Saturday, all but 700 customers had regained power. Those remaining customers are expected to have power restored by 8 p.m., PG&E said.
Police ask that residents avoid the affected area due to all the PG&E work being done.