Seattle Power Restored After Thousands See Workday Disrupted

A blackout in downtown Seattle after a utility-equipment failure left thousands of people without power for about an hour.

Power was restored at about 12:30 p.m. local time, utility Seattle City Light said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Office workers at Zillow Group Inc., law firm Perkins Coie and other downtown Seattle companies milled around outside their buildings after leaving by fire exits. The streets were congested with buses and cars, with vehicles stopping at every intersection and occasional sirens from fire trucks and police cars. At least one helicopter hovered overhead.

Seattle City Light blamed the outage on a failure at the city’s Massachusetts Street substation and said crews are still investigating the cause. The utility estimated 12,000 electric meters were affected. The headquarters of Inc., north of downtown, weren’t affected.

In the lobby of 1111 Third Ave., about a dozen people watched as firefighters shined lights up an elevator shaft to try to free a person stuck in the car. A firefighter later said the person was freed before the power went back on.

A small number of local outages remain and will be restored shortly, said Seattle City Light, which bills itself as “the nation’s greenest utility” for its commitment to sustainable energy sources.

Before power was restored, food trucks in downtown Seattle were mobbed with customers. Many of them were taking payments with the mobile application Square Inc., while some restaurants without power turned away customers without cash.

Michelle Lazarov, who works at ECG Management Consultants Inc., had her teal headphones on as she headed home to the suburb of Burien. When the power first went off, “We all just sat there for a second, then ran around like kids on a snow day,” Lazarov said. She said her supervisor told staffers to work from home and the IT department shut their network down.

Darkened Lobby

Christy Fairlie, 35, was working during her last day as a paralegal at Perkins Coie when the power went out. Standing in the darkened lobby of 1201 Third Ave., she checked her cell phone for updates.

At 1111 Third Ave., Nicole Gladu, a 46-year-old environmental consultant, said she was in her office talking on the phone when the power went out but managed to catch an elevator to the lobby.

“Our company has closed the office for the day,” Gladu said. When asked what she was planning to do this afternoon, she said: “Try to get home to get some work done.”

Then the lights went back on.

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