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Waltham power surge followed by fires, power outages

Businesses and homes, mostly on Waltham's South Side, lost power and, in some cases, caught fire after a power surge through electrical lines shortly before 9 a.m.

Firefighters from surrounding communities have responded to help the Waltham Fire Department deal with the situation.

As of 9:20 a.m. Eversource reported 2,203 businesses and homes were without power, mostly concentrated south of the Charles River, but also along Main, School and Grove streets.



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Waltham just had an overvoltage incident less than a year ago! Something is very, very wrong with Eversource.

Voting closed 25

All my smart LED lights came on this morning, which is their default behavior when power is restored after an outage. Maybe if Eversource were required to waive the next electric bill for everyone affected, with the number of bills waived compounding with every successive incident, they would actually figure out what's going on and fix it.

Voting closed 20

I'm really curious about how something like this happens and what range of voltages can occur.

Voting closed 16

with where choo-choo supposed to go.

Voting closed 8

In the radio business, lightning is always our worst nightmare. Let's say lightning hits a tower, flows down to the base and into the ground. The resistance of the ground may be a fraction of an ohm, but you've got several thousand amperes of current flowing through it, so you might get a momentary voltage drop of a few hundred volts between the bottom of the tower and the ground.

Now, imagine that you've got the base of the tower connected to the building ground; that means the ground pin on every device in the building suddenly has several hundred extra volts between it and actual ground. That's not something a typical surge suppressor will protect against, so things like audio amplifiers or computer network adapters can easily fry when it happens.

Voting closed 12

Lightning is definitely a concern, but was there any lightning in play in the Waltham incident today?

Voting closed 10

Due to malfunctions in utility pole wiring, it is possible for medium tension street utility pole power (commonly 12,000 to 30,000 volts) to get into house current (120 and 240 volt) lines. Or malfunctions at a substation can put high tension line power (commonly 70,000 to 200,000 volts) gets into medium tension lines which in turn affects the voltage at homes and businesses.. This results in overvoltage (power surges).. In extreme cases the overvoltage can damage wiring in a building requiring breaking open the walls and restringing the wiring and replacing switches and receptacles (outlets) and other equipment..It does not necessarily involve lightning although lightning also causes its own problems.

Voting closed 14