[symple_googlemap title=”Pacific Highway Closed” location=”Pacific Coast Highway at Latigo Beach, Malibu, CA” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

Traffic in Malibu reached an absolute standstill for almost six hours Saturday, as a power pole cracked and fell onto hot wires over Pacific Coast Highway at Latigo Beach.

The beachside city was split almost exactly in half, with a 30-mile detour the only connection, between 9:21 a.m. and about 2:50 p.m. The partial reopening of the road was delayed as Verizon workers arrived to reconnect communications cables blocking busy California 1.

About 976 homes and businesses were initially without power at 9:21 a.m., said Southern California Edison spokeswoman Susan Cox. Line workers were able to restore power to all but 244 accounts by midmorning, and all but 18 had their power restored by about 2:15 p.m., she told City News Service.

Witnesses said the top part of the pole cracked, and fell onto hot wires. There was no vehicle crash or other apparent outside factor, according to responding firefighters, said a sheriff’s deputy at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station.

The SCE spokeswoman said no cause for the failure was immediately reported.

The road closure was ordered just after 9:30 a.m. today. PCH westbound traffic was turned around at John Tyler Drive, eastbound traffic got the same order at Latigo Canyon Road.

The closest detour around the four-mile closure was a mountainous 30- mile-loop via Malibu Canyon Road, Mulholland Highway, Sierra Creek Road and Kanan-Dume Road.

The cracking pole and dropped lines came on the same day that Malibu was being hammered by huge surf and thousands of surfers and spectators. In addition, the annual 9/11 commemoration of flags was set up on the broad lawn at Pepperdine University, further snarling traffic.

Southern California Edison and communications companies are starting a multimillion-dollar evaluation and upgrade of wooden poles in Malibu, as part of a settlement from the wooden pole that state investigators say blew over and ignited the 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire.

— City News Service

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