Massive power outage hits downtown Detroit

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2014 11:37 AM

By Serena Maria Daniels and Mark Guarino

DETROIT (Reuters) - A massive outage on Tuesday cut power to public buildings in Detroit ranging from city hall to a criminal courthouse, dozens of public schools and more than three dozen buildings at Wayne State University, officials said.

Power had been restored to some of the buildings by the afternoon and most of the affected customers were expected to have electricity by Tuesday night, DTE Energy Co <DTE.N> spokesman Scott Simons said.

"The city's public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning," the Detroit Public Lighting Department said in a statement.

DTE Energy sells power to Detroit Public Lighting, which distributes electricity to public building customers in Detroit. The two were working together to restore power, Simons said.

He said the cause of the cable failure had not been determined.

Street lights were out for several blocks and buildings affected included the Joe Louis Arena, a courthouse and the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, which includes city hall. Firehouses were running on backup generators.

Detroit Institute of Arts lost power during school field trips and employees escorted visitors out of the building on Tuesday morning, an official said. The museum later said it expected to reopen on Wednesday morning.

The Detroit Public Schools dismissed students for all schools at midday and Wayne State University canceled classes in the afternoon and evening for its Detroit campus.

Power was restored to the criminal courthouse about midday, but the building remained closed and court workers were instructed to return to work on Wednesday.

Many of the same buildings were struck by an outage in September 2013 after temperatures soared into the 90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius), overtaxing the aging electrical system.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels in Detroit, Mark Guarino in Chicago and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Mohammad Zargham)