Burning magpie causes major Swedish blackout

A major power outage struck parts of south eastern Sweden on Sunday evening after a rogue magpie had flown into a relay plant and caught on fire.

Burning magpie causes major Swedish blackout

The outage first occurred during the late afternoon when suddenly over 3,500 households in the Norrköping area found themselves without electricity.

”A magpie had flown into the relay system and touched something, and then went up in flames,” said Johan Aspegren at electrical company Eon to local paper Norrköpings Tidningar (NT).

For customers the outage meant quite a few cold and dark hours waiting for the electricity to come back on.

Staff tried to deal with the problem themselves, but sorting it out took more time than expected after they realized they couldn’t enter the building in question.

”A sprinkler system had kicked in when we got to the actual station, so because of the fire risk we had to wait for the emergency services,” said Aspegren to NT.

At first the company was hoping to have the electricity back on by 7.30pm but for many it wasn’t until after 9pm that lights went back on, after over four hours huddled around candles.

”But everything managed fine and could be restored. Well, apart from the magpie,” Aspegren said to NT.

The incident isn’t the first time that Sweden’s wildlife has caused problems for the country’s utility providers.

Back in 2004, beavers chewed through a tree which then fell on a set of electrical wires, cutting power to around one hundred homes near Motala in central Sweden for several hours.

“We’ve had problems with beavers in certain parts of our region”, said Charles Eriksson at the power company Vattenfall Östnät to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper at the time.

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