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3,450 hit by power outage

10/17/00 Ron Trujillo


A badly damaged transformer caused a far-reaching and lengthy power failure this morning, complicating the commute for drivers and idling workers in downtown Santa Barbara.

About 3,450 customers -- from the 2100 block of Anacapa Street south to Gutierrez Street, and from Chapala to Laguna streets -- were affected by the outage about 7 a.m., said Ernie Villegas, region manager for Southern California Edison.

Power was restored to many customers by 11:15 a.m., while others will be without service for much of today.

The cause of the damage to the transformer, at Anacapa and Padre streets, has not been determined.

"It's a pretty good-sized circuit" that affects downtown, Villegas said just before noon. "It's not a normal outage. It's affecting a larger area (than normal)."

The failure caused Rob Cramer to become trapped in an elevator in the 820 State St., said city Fire Capt. Ed Linquist. While helping Cramer, firefighters detected the smell of burning electrical equipment in the basement of the building.

In the Freitas Building at 200 E. Carrillo St., a smoldering air conditioning and heating unit created smoke and triggered a fire detection system, almost trapping a firefighter behind an electronically controlled door. But two fellow firefighters helped their colleague to escape from the room, Linquist said.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 18, 2000

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