SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A blackout has hit northern Puerto Rico after an explosion set off a big fire at a main power substation in the U.S. territory. Officials with the island’s Electric Power Authority said late Sunday that several municipalities are without power, including parts of the capital of San Juan. It was not immediately known what caused the fire.
“We are trying to restore that as quickly as possible,” the company said.
CBS News’ David Begnaud cites officials as saying 400 megawatts of generation were lost after an explosion/fire at the Monacillos power plant:
BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s power authority @AEEONLINE says 400 megawatts of generation were lost after an explosion/fire at the Monacillos power plant in San Juan.
“we are beginning to recover them as soon as possible,” PREPA states.— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) February 12, 2018
BREAKING: Explosion & fire at Monacillo power plant in San Juan, Puerto Rico, “caused the loss of units in the Central San Juan and Palo Seco, which affects the service in several municipalities in the metro area, as well as the area of Caguas and Juncos,” according to @AEEONLINE— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) February 12, 2018
Heavy black smoke billowed from the substation as neighbors in the area described on social media seeing the sky turn orange following a loud explosion. San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz tweeted that no injuries had been reported and that firefighters were on the scene.
Video posted to social media apparently shows flames at the power plant in San Juan:
Here’s video of the fire at the Monacillos power plant in San Juan, Puerto Rico
We are still waiting to hear from the spokeswoman for @ricardorossello and the spokeswoman for @AEEONLINE https://t.co/ULdTgRZCuz— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) February 12, 2018
The blackout comes as more than 400,000 power customers remain in the dark more than five months after Hurricane Maria. The Category 4 storm destroyed two-thirds of the island’s power distribution system and caused up to an estimated $94 billion in damage.
Puerto Rico’s governor recently announced that he plans to privatize the state-owned power company, which is $9 billion in debt and relying on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average. It would be the largest restructuring of a public entity in U.S. history.