Pacific Gas & Electric has issued its annual plea for the public to use extra care in handling helium-filled metallic balloons common to Valentine's Day, saying lost balloons caused 290 power outages in Northern and Central California last year.
The shiny balloons can cause a short circuit when they come into contact with energized power lines and in 2012 cut power to 134,000 customers just in the northern half of the state, PG&E said.
The incidence of outages caused by metallic balloons has more than doubled in the past decade, PG&E said.
Anyone possessing the balloons is asked to keep them indoors, use weights to keep them near ground level or keep them tethered to avoid a problem.
If a balloon does become tangled in a power line, it is dangerous to try to retrieve it, PG&E said.
Any such situation should be reported to PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
Shelters for Pawnee fire evacuees
Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake St., Lower Lake, is the official shelter established for people evacuating from the Pawnee fire. It is equipped to handle animals.
The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, 15900 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, is not authorized by the Office of Emergency Services but is also sheltering fire evacuees, mostly people in campers and RVs who want their animals with them.
There is an authorized Lake County animal services station in an open field at Highway 53 and Anderson Ridge Road in Lower Lake.