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

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Future uncertain for San Francisco Pride 2020 amid coronavirus

Mayor Breed casts doubt on large-scale gathering being held during crisis

SFUSD: City schools to stay closed for the rest of the year

District joins five other Bay Area districts in announcing closure

Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday suspended an anti-establishment presidential campaign that changed the… Continue reading

John Prine, revered singer-songwriter, dies of COVID-19 complications at 73

John Prine, who traded his job as a Chicago mail carrier to… Continue reading

Supes push to procure hotel rooms for the homeless as coronavirus spreads

‘Friction’ between board and mayor over strategy to protect those living on the streets

Most Read