Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Traffic in Malibu remained tied up in the middle of the 22-mile-long city, as the only road along the coast was partially blocked by crews repairing wooden power poles following a pole-top fire.

One lane in each direction of Pacific Coast Highway was available, and no left turns were allowed, at the intersection with Corral Canyon Road today. Traffic delays of up to 15 minutes were observed by eastbound drivers, westbound traffic had lesser snarls.

Southern California Edison crews were replacing 14,000-volt circuits that fell onto the pavement Saturday, just in time to bifurcate Malibu on a hot beach day when monstrous surf was drawing thousands of surfers and spectators.

About 976 homes and businesses were initially without power at 9:21 a.m. Saturday, and all but 18 accounts had power restored by Sunday.

Reopening of the road was delayed Saturday while SC Edison crews grappled with a communications fiber-optic line of undisclosed ownership. Eventually, an SCE boom truck hoisted the fiber cable into the air from the center turn lane to allow traffic to flow on California 1.

That makeshift arrangement was still being used today, and sheriff’s deputies said they were told the repair job would extend into the afternoon.

In Saturday’s accident, witnesses said the top of the pole snapped off, dropping the main circuits onto communications cables crossing PCH. After a few minutes of sparks and smoke, some crossarms and other equipment fell to the ground.

Southern California Edison and several wireless communications companies are in the midst of surveying their aging overhead poles in the Malibu area, some of which have failed and caused fires. A recent study found 22 percent of the SC Edison poles in its service area violate minimum state safety factor rules, and following the survey, many poles will be replaced, the utility has said.

A pole that state investigators showed was overloaded snapped in heavy winds and sparked the 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire, which caused more than $500 million in damages and forced the evacuation of much of Malibu for four days.

– City News Service

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