An electrical fuse blew up atop a campus utility pole Tuesday afternoon on Guyton Drive, knocking out electricity in Powers Hall. Facilities management staff confirmed the explosion was triggered by a lone squirrel climbing its way into the line.
Just before 4 p.m., a blast echoed from in front of Powers Hall, drawing students and teachers out of their classes. Parking and transportation staff were making their rounds in a nearby faculty lot as pieces of the busted transformer began to smoke in the pine straw surrounding the pole. They stood between a growing crowd of teachers and students and a rising cloud of white smoke. One student used a fire extinguisher from Powers Hall to subdue the slowly building orange flames in the minutes after the explosion, and facilities management staff finished putting out the flames as more staff arrived.
Powers Hall lost power during the incident, and university staff cut off power to the utility pole next door to avoid another possible fire at Mayes Hall. Oxford Fire Department was on the scene within 20 minutes of the initial blast and ensured the smoldered pine straw was no longer ablaze. After OFD cleared the area and left campus, facilities management staff used equipment to reach the blown fuse and remove the scorched squirrel.
According to facilities management staff, this was not their first encounter with a power-disrupting squirrel.