Power restored to 140,000 in San Fernando Valley after plant explosion

The Los Angeles Fire Department extinguished a fire at a power plant in two hours Saturday night in Northridge, Calif., and no one was injured. But it was 12 hours before power was restored to all 140,000 customers in the San Fernando Valley. Photo courtesy of LAFD/Flickr

July 10 (UPI) — Power was restored to the remaining customers Sunday morning in California’s San Fernando Valley after more than 140,000 lost electricity as a result of an explosion at an electrical plant. The power outage came as a record-setting heatwave saw temperatures spike throughout the state.

Twelve hours after the explosion and subsequent fire at the distribution station in Northridge, the remaining 94,000 Valley homes and businesses regained electricity.

The utility posted an update on Twitter at 8:46 a.m.: “Our crews are reporting all power to customers restored out of RS-J and local Distributing Station. Repairs continue, but service restored.”

LADWP spokesman Michael Ventre told the Los Angeles Daily News: “We’re sorry for the inconvenience for people who were out of power, but our guys worked extremely hard all night in difficult conditions to restore power as safely and as quickly as possible.”

The fire at Department of Water and Power’s transmission site, known as Receiving Station J, was an accidental “mechanical malfunction,” but no further information was available Sunday morning, according to fire and DWP officials.

The fire was first reported at 6:53 p.m. PDT, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy flames and thick black smoke coming from “a vat containing as much as 60,000 gallons of mineral oil, reportedly used as a cooling agent for high-voltage equipment,” the LAFD said.

The fire was extinguished in two hours, and no one was injured, according to the LAFD.

“These were fierce flames, with smoke towering more than 300 feet into the sky,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey told the Los Angeles Times.

The DWP says crews worked through the night “to clear multiple damaged conductors, circuit breakers and transformers at the scene.”

LADWP provides power to 1.6 million customers in Los Angeles.

The power failure came as the region experienced record high temperatures Saturday. In Woodland Hills, the high reached 110 degrees, besting the previous record of 108, set in 2006. At 9 p.m., the temperature in Woodland Hills was 84 degrees.

Downtown Los Angeles tied its record temperature of 96 degrees, which was set July 8, 1954.

“I kept looking at my phone to see the temperature. It was always 108 degrees,” Ernesto Córtez, a cabinet maker at a workshop across from the power plant, told the Los Angeles Daily News. “What I did was pour water over myself. That was all I could do.”

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