Friday, June 22 , 2018, 8:31 am | Fog/Mist 60º

 
 
 
 

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10 Rescued from Macy’s Elevators as Power Outage Darkens Santa Barbara’s Chapala Corridor

Southern California Edison trying to determine cause, extent of outage that affects at least 1,000 customers downtown

Santa Barbara firefighters arrive at Paseo Nuevo to free 10 people trapped in Macy’s elevators when downtown power went out Friday night.
Santa Barbara firefighters arrive at Paseo Nuevo to free 10 people trapped in Macy’s elevators when downtown power went out Friday night. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

A sweeping power outage was reported in downtown Santa Barbara on Friday night, but the cause and the extent were difficult to determine.

Firefighters rescued nearly a dozen people who were trapped in elevators at Paseo Nuevo, and many downtown traffic signals were not working.

In spite of the outages, it appeared to be a typical — albeit sweltering — Friday night along most of State Street.

Noozhawk began receiving reader reports of scattered power outages around 8 p.m.

Not long afterward, Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Mike DePonce said crews were dispatched to Paseo Nuevo to free 10 people who were trapped in two Macy’s elevators when the electricity failed.

“We extricated five people from the first elevator and four or five from the second,” he told Noozhawk. “A third elevator was empty.”

He estimated the unlucky riders had been stuck for about 15 minutes. There were no injuries, he added.

DePonce said firefighters checked in on other downtown buildings with elevators, but they were all unoccupied.

Rondi Guthrie, public affairs region manager for Southern California Edison, told Noozhawk that at least 1,000 customers appeared to be without power.

As of 9:40 p.m., she said, crews were still gathering information on what had triggered the outages and the boundaries of the affected areas.

Earlier, Edison’s outage map showed a single “scheduled outage” that was said to affect 15 customers.

According to DePonce, however, public-safety officials believe the problem originated with some kind of a malfunction in a miniature transformer near Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“Apparently, a transformer, located on the east side of the hospital, is responsible for the Chapala corridor,” he said.

DePonce said Chapala Street was completely dark between Figueroa and Haley streets downtown.

Also affected was SBFD’s Station 1, at 121 W. Carrillo St., which was operating on its emergency generator.

“I just went outside to check,” he said at 10:30 p.m., “and it’s still humming along.”

It appeared to be business as usual along much of State Street, although the west side of the 800 and 900 blocks was dark and the traffic signals were out at the intersection of Canon Perdido and State.

This week’s ongoing extreme heat wave has taken a toll on Southern California’s power grid, triggering outages throughout the region.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story. Reader reports can be shared on Noozhawk’s Facebook page.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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