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Power restored to all downtown Sacramento SMUD customers following substation fire | Updates

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District said Friday at 7:25 a.m. the remaining 500 customers left in the dark since Tuesday will now have the lights back on.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 7:25 a.m. update:

Power has been restored to the remaining SMUD customers in downtown Sacramento after more than six hours of power restoration efforts, the utility company said.

6:01 a.m. update:

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District announced on Friday the remaining 500 downtown customers without power can expect the lights to come back on by 7 a.m.

Pushing back the initial 6:00 a.m. deadline, SMUD said crews began the power restoration process at 1:00 a.m. Friday morning by staging a controlled outage.

Power is expected to be restored once the controlled outage wraps up, according to SMUD.

"We appreciate our customers’ patience as we make repairs and restore power and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience," the utilities company said in a statement on Thursday.

Credit: SMUD
SMUD crew working to restore power in downtown Sacramento on Dec. 16, 2021.

Original Dec. 15 story:

Dozens of people are waiting to return home after a high-rise apartment for seniors was evacuated Tuesday night over safety concerns stemming from a substation fire.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) officials announced Wednesday that power was restored for many customers following Tuesdays power outage in downtown Sacramento. However, those impacted might have another day to go without power. SMUD said power is expected to return by Friday morning.

SMUD said a fire at Station A in the area led to significant damage to one network and immediately de-energized two of their networks — Station A serves the downtown area with three networks in total. 

Two of those networks have been re-energized, while crews are working on the third network that suffered the significant damage.

The Sacramento Fire Department told ABC10 that power is back on for residents at the Edgewater Senior Apartments in downtown Sacramento and that they can return home. 

Sacramento’s Housing and Redevelopment Agency is inspecting unit by unit to make sure everything is in working order so residents can safely return after last night’s abrupt and frightening evacuation.

“I can’t walk down the stairway,“ Margie, a resident, said. "Unless I have help.”

The 76-year-old told ABC10 she came to tears when the power flickered off Tuesday.

“I was so worried and upset that I wasn’t going to make it down the stairs,” she said.

She made it down eight floors only with the help of her husband a neighbor.

As fire officials put out the substation blaze, 911 calls started flowing in. The Sacramento Fire Department responded to 12 high rises without power to offer help, said Sacramento Fire Marshal Jason Lee.

Edgewater was the only apartment forced to evacuate over safety concerns.

“Folks there were utilizing candles and other heating instruments like their stoves, that with a combination of other things could lead to more fire hazards,” Lee said. 

The power outage compromised the building's fire suppression system, leading to a potentially dangerous situation when Sacramento Fire ordered the building to evacuate. 

The 12-story, 108-unit, 49-year-old building is an affordable apartment complex for low-income seniors. Garith Powell has been there for four years.

“They should have had generators," Powell said.

While the building was in the process of getting back-up power, Sacramento Fire officials say it was not required to have a generator because of its age.

“They did everything they could do, and they really couldn’t do anything more,” Powell said.

ABC10 has reached out for comment on the evacuations, SHRA officials said they are busy with building inspections and trying to get residents back home and were not available to speak on camera. They said they will provide a written statement soon.

Other impacts following Tuesday outage

On Wednesday, residents at the Ping Yuen Senior Apartments were told they will be placed in hotels Wednesday night following Tuesdays power outage.

Credit: Barbara Bingley, ABC10
Downtown Sacramento power outage impacts resident Jeanette Prince at Ping Yuen senior apartments.

Meanwhile, Thai Lotus Cuisine owner Tina Savavong said they are loosing $1,000 as they are still being impacted by the outage. She said power went out in the middle of lunch Tuesday and they have no idea when they will re-open.

Kim Pederson, spokesperson for the Sacramento Superior Court, said Wednesday power is back on at Sacramento County Office Buildings at 700 H Street and 827 7th Street. Pederson added that all public counters were expected to re-open at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Also, criminal and civil hearings resumed Wednesday after power returned at the main jail and main courthouse, but the Hall of Justice facility is still without power.

Watch more from ABC10

Hundreds of seniors evacuated after explosion at SMUD substation

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