Squirrel knocks out power to 3 Tampa schools on first day of FCAT

8:41 AM, Apr 16, 2013   |    comments
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Power crews in front of Roland Park K-8 School.

Tampa, Florida -- Just in time for the FCATs, a squirrel ran across a main power line that touched the grounded pole and blew out power to more than 700 customers -- including three schools.

The lights went out around 8:30 Monday morning at Lavoy Exceptional Center, Jefferson High, and Roland Park magnet schools.

TECO officials said 1 in 5 power outages are caused by animals and they are the leading cause of power outages. A squirrel is also suspected to be behind a massive power outage at a Tampa water treatment plant back in February.

Students and parents said the timing couldn't have been worst as more than 800 students took the FCAT.

"We didn't panic," said 5th grader Nyliah Clark. "Our teachers said to calm down. We did what we were supposed to do."

Third grader Omari Rodriguez said they took their mind off the test. "We played bingo board games had an ice cream slushee."

Crews quickly arrived on the scene to restore service, so students could get to their FCAT testing.

As for the fate of the squirrel.

"It exploded. It got fried," TECO lineman Wayne McClellan told 10 News.

The squirrel was buried at the bottom of the power pole where it lost its life.

Many of the students resumed testing once the power was back on. But did the students appreciate the break? 

"Yeah, but I wish we got it over with when we were supposed to," said Nyliah.

According to Hillsborough School officials, students and schools will not be penalized. Those who did not finish testing Monday will finish the tomorrow.

"The school was quick to call the testing department to find out what they were suppose to do," Hillsborough County Schools spokesman Steve Hegarty said. "Some put off testing for a day. We will be careful the state does not have any issues."

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