Fire Department Bureau
A major fire at an electrical substation for Puerto Rico’s new electricity provider, Luma Energy, left hundreds of thousands of island residents without power on Thursday.
At the height of the blackout, nearly 800,000 customers were without power, according to Luma. As of midnight Friday, approximately 60,000 customers were still in the dark.
“The fire caused major blackouts throughout the island. The situation is under evaluation and work is being done to restore the system,” LUMA Energy tweeted.
The fire and blackout weren’t the only crises Luma faced on Thursday.
On the same day, the company announced that its customer portal and mobile application were victims of a cyberattack that disrupted customer access to its online services.
The DDoS attack, or distributed denial of service attack, generated 2 million visits per second to the customer portal and mobile app, affecting the ability of many customers to access account information, according to Luma.
The company said in a statement that “It regrets that its customers have experienced the inconvenience the attack may have caused and looks forward to continuing to provide them with an exceptional customer service experience.”
It is not clear if the fire and the DDoS attack are connected.
Luma has only been in his new role as the island’s energy authority for 10 days. The island’s previous energy provider, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, had its own notorious struggles with blackouts, bankruptcies, and general mismanagement in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Officials had warned residents to be patient in the early days of the transition, as Luma inherited the fragile electrical infrastructure. But even before Thursday’s blackout, more than 1 million customers were without power this month alone, not counting those affected by the substation fire. according to Associated Press.
The governor of Puerto Rico calls for an investigation
The fire broke out in a transformer at the Monacillo de Luma substation in San Juan, according to the company. Police and fire services came to the scene. No injuries have been reported.
In a message shared on social media, the governor. Pedro Pierluisi referred to the incident as an “explosion”.
Pierluisi said state and federal law enforcement authorities are investigating.
BREAKING: Much of the Puerto Rico metropolitan area, the most populated area on the island, is without power right now after an explosion and fire at a power plant in San Juan. I am working to get more information from @lumaenergypr which has not yet posted any details. pic.twitter.com/3ejpfBIH89
– David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 10, 2021
He added that “whoever is responsible will have to answer to the People of Puerto Rico.”
FBI San Juan said they are “evaluating” the power outage and encouraged people with information to come forward.
The blackout comes as the island is still working to vaccinate its residents against the coronavirus. Vaccines must be kept at a low temperature to remain viable.
The island’s Secretary of Health, Carlos Mellado López he said in a tweet that the island’s hospital services remain uninterrupted and that vaccines remain safe. “Our suppliers have generators and we have more than 70 support centers to keep them safe,” he wrote.