South Carolina forestry officials say a small wildfire which burned 40 acres in Lexington County on Wednesday had an unusual culprit — a particularly unlucky squirrel.
Investigators said the squirrel electrocuted itself when it touched a power line and pole at the same time. The grounding charge killed the animal and caused sparks to drop onto the dry grass below. Forestry Commission spokesman Doug Wood said the resulting fire caused $11,000 in property damage near Pelion, although no structures were impacted.
“I have never heard of this,” Wood told South Carolina Radio Network, with a chuckle. “Of course, we’ve heard of animals creating electrical problems. But the fire that resulted is certainly a curious case, for sure.”
Columbia TV station WIS first reported the cause of the fire on Thursday.
Wood said the squirrel’s electrocution knocked out power along the road roughly 20 miles southwest of Columbia. A fire supervisor discovered the animal and blown transformer after responding.
A hayfield and some nearby vehicles were destroyed in the fire. No injuries were reported.