An enormous fire which erupted at an electrical plant sparked a massive blackout in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, leaving nearly 1.5 million across the island without power.
Two transmission lines, with power running up to 230,000 volts, failed, the Electric Power Authority said. Officials expressed their concern about the system failure.
“This is a very serious event,” Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said of the outage. “The system is not designed to withstand a failure of this magnitude. I assume complete responsibility. Everyone knows that the company’s maintenance problems began decades ago.”
Businesses, universities and government offices shuttered early, creating even more chaos on roads. A police officer directing traffic was hit and taken to the hospital.
Puerto Rico’s power company has undergone a drastic financial rehaul, mostly stemming from the $9 billion debt it hopes to restructure amid corruption allegations.
People of Puerto Rico, who continue to struggle in the midst of the island’s economic hardship, were angered about the power outage and expressed their concerns on social media.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze at the southern power plant, though cause of the fire remains unknown.
Officials expect power to be restored by Thursday. Airports, police stations and water plants are expected to receive first priority when the power resumes on Thursday.
Contributing: The Associated Press