Memorial Balloon at Cemetery Sparks Power Outage in Kissimmee

KISSIMMEE, Fla., January 20, 2017 – A balloon left at a cemetery grave was responsible for knocking out power to nearly 1,400 homes and businesses in Kissimmee Thursday afternoon, the Kissimmee Utility Authority reported today.

The balloon broke free from a graveside floral arrangement at Osceola Memory Gardens on Old Boggy Creek Road and made contact with nearby high-voltage power lines, affecting 1,354 customers. The balloon caught fire after contact and fell to the ground inside the adjacent Rose Hill Cemetery where it started a small ground fire. KUA crews were able to quickly extinguish the fire, preventing further damage to the property.

The outage began at 12:36 p.m. and all service was restored 20 minutes later at 12:56 p.m.

Helium-filled balloons made of Mylar — a metalized nylon substance — can float into power lines, causing power outages, downed lines and damaged equipment.

Whether you’re remembering a loved one, celebrating a birthday or other special occasion, KUA recommends these simple safety rules for handling metallic balloons:

— Be sure to secure a helium-filled balloon with a weight heavy enough to prevent it from drifting away.
— Never bundle metallic balloons together.
— Keep metallic balloons indoors and never release them outside.
— Never attach metallic streamers to any balloon, whether it’s latex or metallic.
— Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon, or any foreign object, tangled in power lines. Instead, call KUA at (407) 933-9898 to report the problem.

Founded in 1901, KUA (www.kua.com) is Florida’s sixth largest community-owned utility powering 70,000 customers in Osceola County, Fla.