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Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Detroit lights sabotaged Archer orders downtown street lamps turned off after vandals leave deadly wires exposed

By By Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Mayor Dennis Archer ordered about 600 downtown street lights shut off Tuesday night after discovering someone had ripped wiring out of at least 100 of them, leaving exposed wires that could have killed someone. "This goes beyond vandalism," said Greg Bowens, Archer's press secretary. "This was sabotage."

The sabotage, which was discovered before the power was turned on, affected the area bounded by the Fisher, Lodge and Chrysler freeways and Jefferson. Included in that area are the MGM Grand Casino, Comerica Park and Greektown. There were no reported injuries. It was the second time in six weeks that street lights were darkened downtown. On June 13, a power outage cut electricity to the city system for four days. Bowens said Tuesday that the vandal also removed each light's fuse before leaving the exposed wires, which carry 400 volts when turned on, dangling from the poles.

And in one case, a wire was attached to a fence along the Fisher Freeway, which would have electrified it, Bowens said. "This was clearly a person who knew what he was doing." Charles George, a cable splicer for the city, agreed. "Someone was trying to make our department look bad because there were too many lamps damaged," he said. Marion Green of New Hudson was outraged when she learned about the sabotage as she left the Tigers game.

"That's terrible that someone would try to hurt people," she said. Bowens said a city lighting department document detailing how the lights were connected was found near one of the damaged poles. Detroit police called in additional security downtown. Power to the lights is not expected to be restored until tonight at the earliest.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 26, 2000


Wednesday July 26 1:41 PM ET Lights Go Out on Tiger Fans

By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) - Some 25,000 fans leaving a Detroit Tigers baseball game were greeted with darkness after hundreds of street lights were cut off in an apparent act of sabotage.

Tuesday night's blackout came a day after the city proposed a major city lighting overhaul that would eliminate 80 jobs. No one was to be fired, but they would be transferred to different departments within city government.

``It's odd that the day after we propose what some would call a radical change, this happens,'' said Greg Bowens, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. ``Twenty-four hours after the proposal was made, we're faced with a deliberate act of sabotage by a person or persons that understand clearly how to disable light bulbs at such a scale we haven't seen before.''

Nearly 600 street lights went out, leaving baseball fans in darkness as they streamed out of the new downtown Comerica Park. Fuses had been removed from at least 100 of the fixtures, setting off a chain reaction at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino and the Greektown district.

Detailed blueprints of the downtown lighting system were found near one of the tampered lamps, he said.

The city decided to cut power to all the street lights in the affected areas out of fear that residents would be at risk if they touched exposed parts of damaged lights.

The lights have yet to be turned back on, and an investigation is under way to find the culprits, Bowens said.

The blackout was the second in two months to strike Detroit. A four- day outage in mid-June affected 4,500 sites and more than half the city's street lights, forcing Detroit's public school system to be closed for two days.

The new lighting plan is aimed to improve efficiency and increase power to downtown Detroit, Bowens said. It includes the purchase of new generators and increased power connections.

-- (, July 26, 2000.

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