Power plant explosion, fire causes new Puerto Rico blackout

Machete.
Ezra Shaw  Getty Images

Machete. Ezra Shaw Getty Images

A blackout hit northern Puerto Rico late Sunday after an explosion set off a major fire at a main power substation in the USA territory.

Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said on Twitter that 400 megawatts of power generation had been lost.

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The fire was caused by a mechanical failure and impacted sections of San Juan, Trujillo Alto, Guaynabo, Carolina, Caguas, and Juncos, PREPA spokesman Carlos Monroig told CNN.

Monroig said the majority of customers would have power restored Sunday night, but that communities powered by substations Villa Betina and Quebrada Negrito would likely be without power until Monday afternoon.

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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. The island's power grid was largely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, and an estimated 400,000 residents are still without power five months later.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló recently announced that he planned to privatize the state-owned power company, which is $9 billion in debt and relying on infrastructure almost three times older than the industry average. It would be the largest restructuring of a public entity in US history.

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