One Temecula family has already cobbled together $800 to replace a dishwasher lost during a March 8 widespread power outage and surge that affected nearly 6,500 residents.
“I’m lucky I was home because my dishwasher started smoking and embers starting coming out,” said Olivia Walker, who lives on Providence Road in Harveston. “I heard this ‘pow,’ it was like gunshot.”
The cause of the incident that affected residents in both Temecula and Murrieta is still under investigation, but Southern California Edison has pinpointed the location where it started: at the corner of Murrieta Hot Springs and Winchester roads, according to a company spokeswoman.
A total of 6,493 customers—mainly in an area bordered by Winchester and Murrieta Hot Springs roads—lost power at 4:12 p.m., and all power was restored by 4:43 p.m., according to Vanessa McGrady, a spokeswoman for SCE.
SCE initially reported it was due to a car backing over a wire used to secure power poles to the ground; however, McGrady said Wednesday the company now believes it may have been related to work that was recently performed at that particular location by a contractor.
“We are still investigating that,” McGrady said.
Whatever may have caused it, residents such as Walker are still seeking answers.
“Everyone is wondering what happened because it was nothing like a normal outage,” Walker said. “This was so widespread, and so random.”
The Riverside County Fire Department responded to the affected area when it received numerous reports of smoke alarms activated. There were no serious reports of fire or injuries, a county fire spokeswoman said.
That evening, several residents paid to have their thermostats replaced, according to Walker, who said she paid to have an electrician come check her family home.
Many are still in disbelief of the damage wreaked by the strange event.
“Just about everybody I’ve talked to in Harveston has lost an appliance of some sort,” Walker said. “TVs have blown up, I’ve heard of one family whose carpet caught fire.”
One family lost all their appliances except their oven, she said.
“People are living out of ice chests because they lost their refrigerators.”
Many have started the task of seeking compensation for damages incurred, including Walker.
McGrady could not say how many of those affected have filed claims with SCE, but advised them to file claims with their homeowner’s insurance and/or with SCE. Customers can visit SCE.com/claims for information regarding the process, she said.
“People should hear back within a couple of weeks that their claim has been acknowledged,” McGrady said.
Walker maintains she is among those pushing for culpability in the situation.
“How is it our responsibility when the outage happened outside our homes?”