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Blacked Out

By David Scharfenberg Daily Planet staff
Thursday March 14, 2002

More than 5,700 residents and businesses in the southern and central portions of Berkeley lost power Wednesday afternoon when a splice connecting two underground cables at Bancroft Way and Fulton Street failed. 

The failure occurred at 12:42 p.m., according to Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. spokesman Jason Alderman. 

“We were able to reroute a lot of those customers ... within the hour,” Alderman said. But 2,600 customers, mostly in southeast Berkeley, remained without power after the rerouting. 

PG&E restored power to the remaining customers by 4:51 p.m., Alderman said. “That’s pretty good,” he commented. 

Alderman said there were probably sparks associated with the splice failure, but that neighborhood rumors of an underground “explosion” were exaggerated. 

The blackout came on the heels of a smaller outage Tuesday evening that left 56 customers without power for more than eight hours. That outage was due to an underground cable failure near Shattuck Avenue and Addison Street. 

“Whenever we have an outage, we regret the inconvenience to customers,” Alderman said.