Power may be out to some customers until 8 p.m. Thursday after a driver knocked down a big Pacific Gas & Electric Co. transmission tower in northwest Fresno.
The driver, identified by the Fresno County Coroner as Rita Gray, 29, , was ejected in the crash and died at the scene, Fresno police confirmed.
Initially about 70,000 customers lost power, according to PG&E.
The crash occurred at 1:13 a.m., according to Lt. Mark Hudson, who reported the driver was driving eastbound on Emerson Avenue near Hazel Avenue at a high rate of speed when she struck the tower.
The tower was heavily damaged and knocked at a 45-degree angle as several power lines fell to the ground, igniting a grass fire. Another section of line fell into the backyard of a home. Initially, police considered evacuating nearby homes, but determined that asking neighbors to leave was not necessary. Many traffic lights in the affected area were out.
By 1 p.m., power was still out to more than 5,400 customers. At its height, the outage affected customers in an area roughly bounded by Shaw Avenue, Maroa Avenue, Fresno Chaffee Zoo and just west of Highway 99.
Emerson between Marks Avenue and Valentine Avenue will be closed for as long for as long as 24 hours as the transmission line is rebuilt.
The SUV that ran into the tower remained at the scene Thursday morning as the police department's Collision Reconstruction Unit investigated the incident.
This story will be updated.