Flashback Friday: Squirrel wreaks havoc with Tufts power lines, 1989

Professors held classes outside during a power outage caused by a squirrel on Oct. 23, 1989. Jonathan Grauer / Tufts Daily Archive

On Oct. 23, 1989, the Tufts campus and parts of Medford and Somerville lost power for 45 minutes between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. According to an Oct. 24, 1989 Daily article, 8,764 people were affected by the blackout, and several classes at Tufts were forced to cancel midterms. The culprit? A squirrel.

The squirrel apparently entered a Medford power substation and walked across an electrical disconnect, disrupting 12 power distribution feeders. Massachusetts Electric Commercial and Industrial Representative Jane Cohen hypothesized that the squirrel might have entered the substation in order to escape the cold weather. According to Senior Director of Operations Phil Abruzzi, the squirrel caused no damage to campus computer equipment or dining services.

A similar event occurred two years prior, on Dec. 11, 1987. A squirrel had entered the same power substation and caused a 55-minute blackout in the area.