Power restored to all San Francisco customers after massive outage

Image 1 of 5

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Power has been restored to all customers who lost electricity in San Francisco after a  widespread outage left a large swath of San Francisco homes and businesses without electricity for much of the day and prompting the closure of a BART station Friday morning.

The power outage, which affected around 90,000 customers in several neighborhoods, including the Financial District, Cow Hollow and the Presidio, resulted in the closure of the Montgomery BART station in San Francisco and halted service on all of the city's cable car lines this morning.

As of 5 p.m., PG&E officials said power has been turned on for all of its customers following a fire at the Larkin substation, located at 600 Larkin Street. Crews remain at the scene of the substation as of Friday night where the fire broke out. 

The PG&E official said a "catastrophic" failure of a circuit breaker ignited insulation at the substation. Authorities said the outage started around 9:15 a.m.

"We've hit it with dry chemical which is more of a smothering agent, which is putting the flames out, but it's still hot and then it will re-ignite," said Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Burke. 

Mayor Ed Lee said no injuries were reported and San Francisco residents were asked to call 911 only in the event of an emergency.

Around 4:30 pm San Francisco Unified Schools tweeted that all school sites have power and that after-school programs are open. The city's emergency management system alerted that all hospitals' power  had been restored around that same time.

The public was asked to refrain from calling 911 except for life-safety emergencies to keep lines clear for urgent emergencies. People were referred to call 311 for City service-related questions.

Service at the Montgomery BART station resumed around 11:30 a.m. after the agency was able to bring a power generator online at the station, according to a social media post. "Normal service has resumed through DTSF," the agency tweeted.

The outage impacted northern parts of the city, according to the city's Department of Emergency Management.

People milled on sidewalks, controllers directed traffic manually, and shops went 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.

"It was pitch black in our store and everybody kind of freaked out a bit," said restaurant manager Alex Paniagua. "We tried to do the best we can, but we definitely lost a lot of customers," he said. 

Many area restaurants couldn't take credit cards or lunch orders and were forced to close. Some businesses couldn't get work done and sent people home early. 

Fire officials received 20 calls of people stuck in elevators. 

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 Friday, 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."

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.