Utility plant fire cuts NYC power

Sunday, July 21, 2002

NEW YORK -- A fire at a utility plant Saturday blacked out power for tens of thousands of people in a swath of lower Manhattan and snarled transportation around the city.

Crews had restored electricity by early evening, largely ending an emergency that brought back disconcerting memories of the days after Sept. 11.

During Saturday's outage, residents around the fallen World Trade Center again found themselves navigating dark hallways and descending gloomy stairwells for dozens of floors as sirens wailed outside.

National Guardsmen, a fixture on the streets after the terrorist attack, returned, helping police direct traffic on roads crowded with onlookers. A stretch of Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, a major highway along the east side of Manhattan, was closed.

Most subway traffic through downtown was suspended or rerouted. Smoke could be seen for miles.

There was no evidence, though, that the midafternoon fire was caused by anything other than an accident, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The apparent cause was a transformer explosion.

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