A squirrel left 4,000 Appalachian Electric Power (AEP) customers in the dark for several hours on Monday night.

Phil Moye, spokesman for AEP, said around 9 p.m. Monday that the little rodent entered the fenced-off AEP substation at North Beckley around 6:30 p.m. and touched a piece of energized equipment while also touching the ground.

Three entire circuits of the North Beckley station, around 4,000 customers, were without power for a few hours.

While some customers were still without power at 9 p.m. AEP crews expected to have all power restored Monday night.

"What's really odd is, this is the second large power outage we've had today that's been caused by a squirrel," Moye reported. "We had one earlier today, in Kanawha City."

While the incidents were stressful for customers, the squirrels paid the ultimate price.

"The squirrels never survive that," Moye said. "You're getting a huge amount of electricity."

The squirrel's fate on Monday afternoon may serve as a reminder to kids, teens and adults.

While birds and squirrels may walk along power lines, they will get electrocuted if they touch a power line or another piece of equipment while touching the ground or while touching something that touches the ground.

"That's very much the same as if a person reached out and touched a power line or energized piece of equipment," said Moye. "The same result would occur.

"You would likely have a (fatality)."

Moye said that squirrels are "acrobatic" and can get places that most other animals cannot reach, including the substations. He said that they usually cause power outages in the fall, when they are out gathering nuts.

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