Shock halts Caltrain commute, cuts power

An electrified fence at the Caltrain station in Burlingame jolted and injured a middle-aged man Thursday evening, shutting down rush-hour traffic on the tracks for close to two hours and leaving thousands in a subsequent blackout.

Around 6:40 p.m., a witness called 911 after seeing smoke and small flames coming from a tree leaning against a metal construction fence at the south end of the Burlingame platform, police said. Burlingame Fire Department Battalion Chief Drew Flinders said the woman reported that a man was convulsing next to the fence.

Burlingame police officers responded to the scene and immediately vacated the platform of commuters, Burlingame police Commander Mike Matteucci said. Authorities were unsure how the fence had been electrified, but said electricity may have come from an electrical source in the ground at the side of the station. Caltrain crews had been prepping for weekend maintenance work at the station to install new concrete pads and replace worn rails.

Flinders said the victim, who was found with his feet under the fence, had no external burns or exit wounds. He was disoriented but responsive when he was taken by ambulance to Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame.

“His statement was he thought he got hit by a train,” Flinders said.

Nine trains were affected by the incident, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said, although most of the trains were able to get to a nearby station and let riders off. At least two trains were still stuck between stations, and transit police near the trains reported that some riders were yelling at conductors. Trains began moving at 8:10 p.m.

A Pacific Gas & Electric crew on scene shut down several power sources in an attempt to figure out where theelectricity was coming from. PG&E spokeswoman Darlene Chui said about 3,170 customers in the surrounding area were out of power as of 9:35 p.m.

The power outage created a traffic gridlock at the busy intersection of California Drive and Broadway with traffic lights shut down. Power was also out at some busy restaurants in downtown Burlingame.

At the popular restaurant Straits, Valentine’s Day celebrators were eating cold food by

candlelight.

“We’re probably going to lose $10,000 tonight,” Straits regional director Dennis Baughman said. “But we’re giving all the customers who are still here a glass of champagne, because it is Valentine’s Day.”

kworth@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

Just Posted

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Sunday was wettest October day in San Francisco history

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

While Kaiser Permanente patients seeking mental health care will get a 30-minute phone assessment within days, in many cases, they cannot get actual treatment for months. (Shutterstock)
City employees face months-long wait time for mental health care

‘We are in the midst of a mental health crisis’

Klay Thompson, left, and his boat dealer Kenyon Martin take on his test drive on the NBA star’s 37-foot vessel; injury woes sent Thompson, the Golden State guard, looking for solace. He found it on the water. (Courtesy Anthony Nuccio via New York Times)
Warriors star finds love with his fishing boat

Being on the water is a ‘safe space’ for Klay Thompson

Most Read