APS officials say mylar balloons are to blame for uptick in power outages

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- It's graduation time, and while utility companies are happy to see all the celebrations, they are also worried about one item that's a part of many parties.

Mylar balloons.

When mylar balloons come into contact with power lines, like one did this past weekend in Scottsdale, it's a nightmare for home and business owners. In fact, APS officials said if people spot mylar balloons close to power lines, they want you to contact them immediately, as they can cause trouble and headaches for many.

"Those balloons have metal fibers in them, and when they get into our equipment, they can cause a surge and that causes the power to go out," said Suzanne Trevino with APS.

At 3:10 p.m. Saturday, 7,500 APS customers lost power, and APS officials traced it to a mylar balloon that entered the APS Chapparal Substation, located on Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.

"I was shocked," said Jeff Worsley with Rosatti's Pizza. "I didn't believe the rumor. I heard it was a balloon with helium with metal in it, maybe a hot air balloon, but not something that small."

Rosatti's Pizza was entering their busy time when the power went out on Saturday. Worsley sent employees home, and while the power was back on in about 90 minutes. he estimates he lost at least $1,500.

"I mean, considering that's half our business during rush, so yeah, it was quite a damper. Looking forward to this weekend," said Worsley.

The power also went out for some Chapparal High School students who were attending their own graduation party.

"After the party, we decided to cut them and let them go into the sky, just as a good farewell," said graduate Blake Hillis.

It's unlikely their balloon sparked the outage, but Hillis said he regrets doing it now.

"It was a stupid decision, and it was just kind of in the moment, and I regret doing it," said Hillis.