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Approximately 1,000 Ameren Illinois customers in Granite City and Madison had to eat lunch in the dark Saturday after Mylar balloons floated into nearby power lines around 11:40 a.m.

Customers called Ameren Illinois to report seeing the balloons arcing in the power lines before the power went out.  A crew patrolled the lines and found the melted balloons entangled in the power lines.

The balloons were safely removed and power was restored at 1:05 p.m.

Mylar balloons are metallic and conduct electricity. Ameren Illinois spokesman Brian Bretsch said this can lead to surges and shorts that can knock out power, start fires and significantly damage the electric grid.

“We realize our customers are looking forward to the opportunity to safely spend some time with family and friends this summer," Bretsch said. "Many of those outings include Mylar balloons to celebrate new graduates, newlyweds, birthdays and holidays. Keeping the balloons tethered and weighted while in use and then properly puncturing and disposing after the fact can help to ensure they do not get loose and end up in our power lines and substations.”

Bretsch said if you notice a balloon or anything else entangled in an electric infrastructure, never attempt to remove the object yourself; instead call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 and a crew will be dispatched to handle it.

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