Smoke rises after an equipment fire broke out at the PG&E substation at Larkin and Eddy streets in San Francisco, Calif. Friday, April 21, 2017, causing city-wide power outages. (Jonah Owen Lamb/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor calls for review of PG&E substations after major power outage Friday

A power outage that impacted nearly 90,000 PG&E customers throughout San Francisco on Friday was caused by an equipment failure at an electrical substation in the Tenderloin, said Mayor Ed Lee at a news conference five hours after the outage was first reported.

In all, 88,000 customers lost power and PG&E had fully restored power by 5 p.m.

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Meanwhile, an FBI spokesperson told the San Francisco Examiner that while they had been monitoring the outage along with a series of others across the country Friday, no criminal cause was suspected and they’re not believed to be related.

Lee is expected to formally call for the company to review all of its San Francisco substations next week, even though the substation in question at Larkin and Eddy streets is scheduled to have a $100 million upgrade later this year.

The fire department received a call from a resident who heard a bang and saw smoke coming from the Tenderloin substation around 9:15 a.m., said Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White. Crews arrived soon after and were able to extinguish the fire with chemical agents, but insulation around a failed circuit breaker remained smoking into the afternoon.

The fire was caused because of a circuit breaker failure, said Barry Anderson, Vice President of Electric Distribution for PG&E.

No reported injuries were caused by the outage, but 20 elevators were stuck with people inside of them and traffic was snarled across much of The City.

Ed Reiskin, director of the Municipal Transportation Agency, said nearly a third of the 1,200 traffic lights in San Francisco went out and 300 traffic control officers along with police traffic units had to be called out to direct traffic.

“Our major issue was traffic,” said Police Chief William Scott, who added that anyone stuck in traffic Friday afternoon should instead take advantage of the weather and go to a park, or grab a bite at a local restaurant.

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