Worker Goof Blamed for L.A. Blackout

An error by utility workers caused a major power outage in Los Angeles this afternoon.

Worker Error Blamed for L.A. Blackout (AP)

Utility workers connected the wrong wires and caused a blackout across major portions of Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, trapping people in elevators and snarling traffic at intersections, authorities said.

About 2 million people were affected by the resulting power surge and outages, which were reported from downtown west to the Pacific Coast and north into the San Fernando Valley.

Much of the power, which failed at about 12:30 p.m., was restored within less about 2 1/2 hours; all power was expected to restored by 5 p.m.

Several workers who were installing an automated transmission system hooked up the wrong wires, according to Ron Deaton, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“They connected it to another line that was not expecting that much electricity,” he said. No one was injured in the mishap, but officials said two workers suffered minor breathing problems when smoke backed up at an oil refinery after the outage.

Downtown high-rises went dark, fire officials said they received reports of people stuck in elevators, and stoplights went out at intersections across the city. Neighboring cities, including Burbank and Glendale, also were affected.

The Police Department went on “full tactical alert,” meaning no officers were allowed to leave work when their shifts were over.

But calm prevailed in downtown Los Angeles, with office workers taking the opportunity for an extended lunch as police and fire sirens echoed in the background.

The blackout came a day after ABC aired a videotape of a purported al-Qaida member making terrorist threats against Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia, on the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But even before the utility explained what happened, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said there was no indication of terrorism.

I’m sure that, somehow, George W. Bush will be blamed for this. I have it on good authority, however, that Mike Brown was thousands of miles away.

FILED UNDER: Policing, Terrorism, Uncategorized, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    good authority, however, that Mike Brown was thousands of miles away.

    But that’s really the problem, isn’t it? The federal response on this was wholly inadequate.

    (/katrina-related gallows humor)