Massive San Francisco power outage linked to substation fire

- Up to 30,000 customers remained without power Friday afternoon after a widespread outage left a large swath of San Francisco homes and businesses without electricity, prompting officials to close a BART station while crews worked to restore service. 

The power outage, which affected several neighborhoods, including the Financial District, Cow Hollow and the Presidio, resulted in the closure of the Montgomery BART station  in San Francisco and halted service on all of the city's cable car lines this morning.

The utility blamed the outage on a fire at the Larkin substation, located at 600 Larkin Street. At a 2 p.m. press conference, a PG&E officials said they expect to have power restored between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. At a press conference at 4 p.m., PG&E said service has been restored to all but 3,000 customers so far.

The PG&E official said a "catastrophic" failure of a circuit breaker ignited insulation at the Larkin substation. Authorities said the outage started around 9:15 a.m. Mayor Ed Lee said no injuries have been reported and San Francisco residents were asked to call 911 only in the event of an emergency.

Service to the Montgomery BART station resumed around 11:30 a.m. after the agency was able to bring a power generator online at the station, according to a social media post. "Normal service has resumed through DTSF," the agency tweeted.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said that all cable car lines were down as a result of the outage around 9:45 a.m. The transit agency said shuttles were operating to provide service while the power was out.

The outage was impacting northern parts of the city, according to the city's Department of Emergency Management, and PG&E is working to restore service.

People milled on sidewalks, controllers directed traffic manually, and shops were dark. Some buildings had power, others did not. ATM screens were blank.

People were confused about what was going on and what to do, said Pam Martinez, a 25-year-old San Francisco resident and software engineer who was on a train when she heard the announcement that her destination station was closed.

"Even crossing the street was chaotic because the streetlights don't work and there's a few ambulances trying to go through the crowds," Martinez said. "It's pretty crazy."

She considered getting a Lyft ride back home but decided that would take too long.

Patricio Herrera sat glumly in his darkened restaurant, Ziggy's Burgers, at what should have been a busy lunch hour full of people hungry for his freshly ground hamburgers.

"We have lost everything today," said Herrera, the store's consulting chef and manager. Six employees sat at tables behind him, chatting or checking their phones.

Employees at a Starbucks were giving out cups of iced and hot coffee in the darkened shop. A worker said that was better than letting the coffee go to waste.

Brent Chapman, who works in billing and reporting for First Republic Bank, told his team to go home after huddling on a sidewalk and waiting for word of when power would be restored.

They had been ready to send out a finished project Friday, one they'd been working on for six months, after some had pulled an all-nighter.

"It's brutal. This is seriously the worst possible time that this could have happened," he said. "I do not want to leave. I want to stay and get this done."

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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