Blackout Briefly Shuts SF State
May 7, 2007 11:34 AM
An underground cable problem resulted in a blackout that affected the entire SF State campus late Monday afternoon.
The power outage, which took place around 3:30 p.m. on the hottest day of the year so far, left classrooms dark and stranded at least three elevator riders for almost two hours before firefighters could free them.
According to Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson Melissa Mooney, the cause of the outage was an "underground termination failure". An "elbow" device connecting underground power cables malfunctioned, resulting in the power failure.
The outage affected other parts of San Francisco and Daly City, though traffic signals continued to operate and the Stonestown Galleria mall near SF State was not affected.
Power was restored to the campus around 4:50 p.m. By 5:25 p.m., power to the rest of the area was completely restored, said Mooney.
Two SF State faculty members and a student were travelling up an elevator in the Humanities building when the power went out, stopping the elevator between the second and third floors.
A San Francisco Fire Department crew was dispatched to the scene to free the three passengers. However, the firefighters had problems prying the third floor elevator door open. After about an hour, they broke down the door and worked to move the elevator down to the second floor.
Once the car moved down, firefighters and elevator techs worked to loosen the second floor door. At approximately 5:15 p.m., the door opened.
English lecturer Patty Baldwin, Volker Langbehn, associate professor of Foreign Languages and Literature, and an unidentified female student were freed from the stalled elevator. The three were not injured, and quickly left the scene .
Besides the Humanities building, there were no other known instances of stranded elevator passengers in any of the buildings at SF State. According to staff members for the Dean of the College of Humanities, people were designated to go around and knock on all elevator doors to see if there were any persons trapped inside.
All buildings were shut down, but running on backup power to provide some light to hallways, said Thomas Guynes, Information Technology Consultant in the College of Humanities.
The blackout came at an inopportune time for some students.
“I was so surprised when the power went out,” said senior international business major Uyen Thai, 24, who was in the middle of an online test. “So many strange things have happened today.”
“I was in dance class, in the middle of a back flip when the lights went out,” said freshman international relations major Matt McEwan, 19. “It was so scary, I had to adjust and luckily landed on my feet.”
“It was nice not having to worry about things. You don’t notice how noisy and distracting technology is until you lose it,” said McEwan.
Café Rosso’s power went out, but they continued business, serving warm and room-temperature food-items and beverages.
Janitors in humanities and gym buildings stopped what they were doing, leaving their supplies in the corridors.
A few students were not affected by the blackout.
A group of students who were practicing for a skit for their Japanese Way of Living class asked what had happened. Told about the outage, they replied, “pssh…big deal!”
Additional reporting by Sheri Broussard, Courtney Nicole Durso, and Monica Olivera
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