Just after 8 p.m. Friday, much of old Ferguson went dark. Pam Reise said, “I was scared for a little bit until it went off. I thought “I’m going to have to turn off my electricity” because I thought it was going to pop.
Some residents reported several minutes of flickering and strange electrical surges, right before the blackout.
Reise said her daughter’s “blow dryer was going bzzz making all kind of noise and my lights in the bedroom were buzzing.”
Even Ferguson Fire and Police headquarters lost power, which some think may have been the target.
Reise said, “After it all happened and I looked out, we all in the house decided it was protestors.”
Ameren Missouri answered suspicions in an e-mail saying “Vandalism occurs on our system from time to time. On Friday, October 31st, a switch on a pole in Ferguson was vandalized. The impact to equipment was minor and we restored power within one hour.”
We found an example of the type of power pole Ameren references. Fox 2 learned the vandal cut a lock leading to a device that requires a special tool to move. That means the vandal may have had special knowledge about the workings of a power grid, because the act didn’t just impact a few homes – it controlled 2,125 of them.
I talked to a worker in a power station who was astounded by the level of risk it would take to pull this off. He said even he doesn’t touch anything without a second worker taking another look. He said he assumes every wire is hot.
Ameren Missouri’s Steve Brophy emphasized that concern for safety. Brophy said, “It’s just very important to remember that these facilities are and can be hazardous if they’re not treated with respect.”
Ameren would not elaborate on how the power was cut or how the company is responding. A source with direct knowledge of the incident told us Ameren has made changes to other power poles that could be targeted and added security for workers.