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Downtown Chicago Without Power

by CHARLES SHEEHAN Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- A fire at an electrical substation caused a blackout across downtown on Sunday, tangling traffic and stranding shoppers.

Police on foot tried to direct pedestrians and motorists through a maze of darkened traffic signals. In some areas, motorists drove up on sidewalks to reach side streets in an effort to escape the mess.

''Thank God this happened on a Sunday,'' said Officer Thomas Donegan, a police department spokesman.

He said there were no immediate reports of accidents or people getting stuck in elevators. But at nearby Soldier Field, a packed Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints game was about to end, meaning thousands more cars would hit the streets.

The power was knocked out about 12:45 p.m. when a circuit breaker at a ComEd substation overheated, exploding and scorching the adjacent breakers, said Fire Commissioner James Joyce. It wasn't clear how soon power could be restored.

The outage left about 11,000 customers without power, said John T. Hooker, the company's vice president for distribution. He said a problem at the same substation led to a similar power outage a year ago.

ComEd has been plagued by power outages in recent years, leading to major concerns about the reliability of the company's aging infrastructure and sharp criticism from public officials, including Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Hooker said the equipment would be tested, but he could not say whether the station would be back to normal in time for the start of the work week.


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AP-NY-10-08-00 1709EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 08, 2000


This sounds like a y2k-type related incident all right.

-- RogerT (, October 08, 2000.


Sunday October 8 8:20 PM ET Power Outage Throws Downtown Chicago Into Chaos

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) - Downtown Chicago was thrown temporarily into chaos on Sunday afternoon when an electrical blackout shut down traffic lights and brought trains to a halt, officials said.

The power went out about 12:40 p.m. CDT, when a circuit breaker failed and ignited a fire at a substation for ComEd, taking out electricity to about 12,000 customers, officials said.

Police spread throughout downtown to direct traffic at tangled intersections and workers rushed to get stranded metro rail line riders out of stalled trains and elevators. The area was crowded with weekend shoppers and football fans who had attended the Chicago Bears National Football League game.

``The fire department acted quickly and very responsively to get to people who were stranded,'' said ComEd spokeswoman Judy Mitchell.

It was not immediately known how many, if any, accidents resulted from the power outage and how many people were stranded before power was fully restored about 6:15 p.m., said police spokesman Art Salinas.

ComEd's Mitchell said the company did not know what caused the fire and was investigating.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 09, 2000.

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