SAN FRANCISCO: A power outage struck a wide area of San Francisco today, blacking out about 90,000 utility customers, trapping people in stuck elevators, snarling traffic as intersection signals went dark and forcing shops and restaurants to close.
Pacific Gas & Electric crews were assessing the problem and there was no immediate estimate for restoration of electricity.
The Fire Department tweeted that it had responded to more than 100 calls for service, including 20 stuck elevators with people inside. However, no injuries were reported related to the outage.
Media reports indicated that firefighters and utility crews were at a smoky fire at a substation, but there was no word on whether it was related to the outage.
The outage affected the Financial District, including Bay Area Rapid Transit's downtown Montgomery Station. People used the lights of their cellphones to walk through the darkened station before BART stopped service there.
People milled on sidewalks, controllers directed traffic manually, and shops were dark. Some buildings had power, others did not. ATM screens were blank.
People were confused about what was going on and what to do, said Pam Martinez, a 25-year-old San Francisco resident and software engineer who was on a train when she heard the announcement that her destination station was closed. "Even crossing the street was chaotic because the streetlights don't work and there's a few ambulances trying to go through the crowds," Martinez said. "It's pretty crazy." She considered getting a Lyft ride back home but decided that would take too long.
Patricio Herrera sat glumly in his darkened restaurant, Ziggy's Burgers, at what should have been a busy lunch hour full of people hungry for his freshly ground hamburgers.
"We have lost everything today," said Herrera, the store's consulting chef and manager. Six employees sat at tables behind him, chatting or checking their phones. Employees at a Starbucks were giving out cups of iced and hot coffee in the darkened shop. A worker said that was better than letting the coffee go to waste.
Brent Chapman, who works in billing and reporting for First Republic Bank, told his team to go home after huddling on a sidewalk and waiting for word of when power would be restored.
They had been ready to send out a finished project today, one they'd been working on for six months, after some had pulled an all-nighter.
"It's brutal. This is seriously the worst possible time that this could have happened," he said. "I do not want to leave. I want to stay and get this done."
The San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/2pN3o6b ) the outage also affected the Presidio, and KRON-TV reported effects stretched to the Marina/Cow Hollow area.
San Francisco has a population of about 850,000.