STAFFORD, Texas A squirrel managed to find its way inside an electrical transformer located next to a Texas Instruments Inc. facility, causing a short-circuit and fire that cut off electricity to the fab and approximately 3,600 area homes Thursday morning (Sept. 27).
A Texas Instruments (TI) spokeswoman said the fire broke out at approximately 7:30 a.m. and was quickly controlled. Backup generators at the TI site kicked in and power was restored by 9 a.m., although the employees were all sent home.
Approximately 1,300 people work at the facility, home of the company's H fab, which produces digital signal processors and microcontrollers. Design teams and marketing staff also work at the site; about half of the workers are in the fab lines. Fab workers were expected to be back at work for the second and third shifts.
"This is not the only time this has happened in Texas," she said. "There is a heavy squirrel population here, and they get inside the transformers and gnaw on the wiring. It can be a big problem."
Smoke from the transformer could be seen from afar and attracted traffic helicopters and spectators. The transformer site is located immediately behind the TI campus. There were no injuries, and no damage was reported at the TI facility. Crews from the local power company, Reliant Energy, were working to correct the problem. There was no immediate word on the condition of the squirrel.