Puerto Rican Power Plant Fire Causes Island-Wide Power Outage | NBC 7 San Diego
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Puerto Rican Power Plant Fire Causes Island-Wide Power Outage

Governor: "The system is not designed to withstand a failure of this magnitude"

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images, File
    In this file photo, the Puerto Rican flag flies near the Capitol building.

    A big fire erupted at an electricity plant that powers most of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, causing a blackout that swept across the U.S. territory of 3.5 million people.

    The Electric Power Authority said two transmission lines of 230,000 volts each failed. Executive Director Javier Quintana told reporters that he expected most power to be restored by Thursday morning, adding that airports, hospitals, police stations and water plants would get priority.

    "The entire island is without power," said Angel Crespo, director of Puerto Rico's fire department.

    He said firefighters extinguished the blaze at the southern power plant, which serves a majority of customers on the island.

    Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial

    [NATL-DC] Crowd Sings 'We Shall Overcome' at MLK Memorial
    Thousands of people across the country paid homage Monday to Martin Luther King Jr. At a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome" after walking the wreath to an area in front of the statue. (Published Monday, Jan. 16, 2017)

    Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla told reporters the fire began in a switch and initially destroyed a system that provides 30 percent of Puerto Rico's overall power.

    "This is a very serious event," he said. "The system is not designed to withstand a failure of this magnitude."

    He did not directly answer a question about whether the power company has any kind of backup should another similar situation occur, or if the island was hit by a major hurricane.

    "I assume complete responsibility," Garcia said of the outage. "Everyone knows that the company's maintenance problems began decades ago."

    Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop

    [NATL] Thieves Steal Oversized Teddy Bears From Flower Shop
    Police in Marietta, Oklahoma are looking for two thieves who carried out an unusual heist. The pair stole nine life-sized stuffed animals after smashing into a flower shop. Surveillance video shows a suspect in a black hoodie hammering out windows and stealing several large stuffed animals. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    The power company is struggling with a $9 billion debt that it hopes to restructure as it faces numerous corruption allegations. Company officials have said they are seeking more revenue to update what they say is outdated equipment.

    Garcia, however, said that no amount of money or maintenance would have prevented the fire.

    Authorities said the outage caused 15 fires across Puerto Rico as a result of malfunctioning generators, including at the upscale Vanderbilt hotel in the popular tourist area of Condado and at the mayor's office in the northern coastal town of Catano. All those fires were put out and no one was injured, officials said.

    The outage also affected water service across the island, with officials urging customers to be prudent in their usage.

    Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy

    [NATL] Dashcam Video Catches Man Shooting at Deputy
    Dashcam video released Thursday shows a gunfight between a 28-year-old Lagrange, Georgia, man and a Troup County deputy. Deputy Michael Hockett arrived at Matthew Edmondson's home on a wellness check at the request of his father, who was concerned about his well-being. When the deputy arrived, he scaled a fence to go around the house. Edmondson later opened the gate and pulled into the yard before getting out of the truck, and firing a large caliber handgun at the patrol car. Edmondson faces multiple charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, and others. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    The blackout snarled road traffic and the government had to cancel train service in the capital of San Juan and close a busy traffic tunnel in the south. Businesses, universities and government offices shuttered early, creating even more chaos on roads. A police officer directing traffic was hit and taken to the hospital.

    "I call on people to cooperate and respect drivers and government officials ... to avoid any regrettable incidents," Transportation Secretary Miguel Torres said.

    The outage angered many Puerto Ricans who are struggling with power bills that are on average twice that of the U.S. mainland. People took to social media to demand where exactly their money is going.

    Puerto Rico is mired in a decade-long economic slump, and a newly created federal control board is working to restructure nearly $70 billion in public debt that the governor has said is unpayable.

    The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use

    [NATL] The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Use
    Marijuana use may help with chronic pain and nausea, but a new study says there are also negative consequences for young children and those at risk for certain mental illnesses. Experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed all research on marijuana published since 1999 to find who should smoke and who shouldn't. (Published Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017)