Puerto Rican Power Plant Fire Causes Island-Wide Power Outage | NBC Connecticut
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.

    Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    [NATL] Tennessee Lawmakers 'Tricked' Into Honoring Ku Klux Klansman

    Lawmakers in Tennessee are crying foul after Republican Rep. Mike Sparks sneaked in a resolution to honor former Ku Klux Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest with a bust under a different name. The resolution passed unanimously, 94-0, and the bust was installed at the state Capitol before lawmakers realized the mistake. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    "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.

    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."

    UC Davis Now Sells Plan B and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    [NATL] UC Davis Now Sells Plan B, Pregnancy Tests and Condoms From a Vending Machine

    Students at the University of California, Davis, can now purchase $30 Plan B emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, condoms and other personal care products from a vending machine. The idea came from UC Davis senior Parteek Singh, after a friend was unable to buy emergency contraceptives in time. 

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    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."

    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.

    Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    [NATL] Millennials Found Most Susceptible to Robocalls and Scams

    A new study finds that it is not the elderly who are most susceptible to scam phone calls, but millennials, who are six times more likely to give away credit card information than any other age group. 

    (Published Saturday, April 29, 2017)

    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.

    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.

    Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    [NATL] Girl Scalped on Carnival Ride Talks Recovery One Year Later

    Elizabeth "Lulu" Gilreath talks about her recovery from a carnival ride gone very wrong. Gilreath was scalped when her hair was caught on the King's Crown ride in Omaha, Nebraska, but she does not dwell on the incident, saying "My scars don't define me."

    (Published Friday, April 28, 2017)

    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.