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[Fair Use: For Educational and Research Purposes Only] Power Outage Closes Oxnard Campus

By Zerline A. Hughes Ventura County Star writer Wednesday May 24, 2000

It was early Tuesday morning, but the Oxnard College clock tower read 4:52 p.m. That was the exact time the entire campus lost power Monday, the first day of its four-week summer session.

The school was without lights, computer access and telephones for almost 22 hours because of 600 feet of time-worn underground power cables, officials said. The school was able to operate on a backup battery but only for six hours.

Surrounding homes in the area also were affected, but they regained power within 30 minutes.

"The cables underground have a 20-year life span, and that's how old the college is," college President Steve Arvizu said Tuesday.

"We handled it relatively well. We immediately called (Southern California Edison) and they diagnosed where the problem was."

School officials posted signs on every school building and made public service announcements on the radio to warn teachers and students not to come in. About 1,000 students are registered for the four-week summer session at the main site and satellite locations.

Hundreds of feet of electric cables running underground from Bard Road to the school bookstore on Bill Simpson Drive were ruined.

SCE officials said Tuesday the power outage could be the result of several things because the cables are underground, but it was probably related to the wear and tear on the cables.

Repair crews arrived at the college Monday about 5 p.m. after Arvizu reported the outage, officials said. Working nonstop through 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, four service workers remedied the outage by climbing down manholes, finding alternative duct systems and replacing cables. Officials said the college will conduct classes and business as usual today.

"This one's pretty easy. I've been on many sites where we've had to cut the entire street open," one SCE crew worker said.

The outage also interrupted interviews the school was conducting for staff positions.

"This is a pretty inopportune time for this to happen," Lynda Barry, a college administrative assistant, said .

"When we saw the clock, we assumed the power went out at 4:52 this morning, but we found out it was yesterday. We heard it fried the lines within the college."

Arvizu said the outage will be used as a learning experience. He said he plans to work with utility and phone companies to install larger electrical backup systems and stand-alone telephone systems for future emergencies.

-- Zerline A. Hughes' e-mail is


-- (, May 24, 2000

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