September 12, 2005

Major power outage hits Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A major power outage hit Los
Angeles area on Monday, knocking out electricity to thousands
of customers as officials scrambled to determine the cause and
police declared a state of emergency.

"The city is on a tactical alert and obviously traffic is
going to be impacted," Los Angeles Police spokesman Kevin
Maiberger said.

Maiberger described a tactical alert as "what happens when
the city goes into a state of emergency. Police officers will
only be responding to calls where there is a threat to life."

Maiberger said there were no evacuations planned and no
reports of injuries.

"There's a major disruption," Los Angeles Fire Department
spokesman Jim Wells said. "It's a widespread power disruption."

A Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman
said it was not immediately known how many homes or businesses
were without power, though it was known to be in the thousands,
but that the utility was trying to pinpoint the trouble.

"We are trying to get a handle on it," spokeswoman Kim
Hughes said, adding that heat was not thought to be a factor on
a relatively cool September afternoon. "We think it's a
transmission problem."

Outages were reported across downtown Los Angeles,
Koreatown, North Hollywood, Burbank and in the San Fernando
Valley. Officials said power had not been lost at Los Angeles
International Airport.

Television stations showed scenes of confusion unfolding at
major traffic intersections as motorists tried to navigate
through stoplights that were no longer working. Traffic from
the area's freeways was reported to be jammed as stoplight
outages caused backups onto the freeway exit ramps.

In the financial district of downtown Los Angeles office
workers huddled in groups outside their buildings.

Many workers were stranded outside their buildings, which
occurred during lunch and stalled elevators in the high-rise

A spokesman for the California Independent System Operator,
which manages most of the state's power grid, said the outage
in Los Angeles appeared to involve transmission lines within
the control area operated by the city's Department of Water and
Power, a big municipal utility.

The ISO said it had no further immediate information.