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UPDATED Alamedans weather power outages

Submitted by on 1, October 25, 2010 – 4:50 amNo Comment

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Updated 10:07 a.m. Monday, October 25

Theresa Singh-Janklow went to the 2 p.m. showing of “Hereafter” on Sunday at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex. Right before the movie was set to start, the power went out. Free pass in hand, she returned at 5 p.m. to try again. This time, the power fizzled 90 minutes into the movie.

“I think we aren’t supposed to see this movie! We couldn’t believe it,” Singh-Janklow wrote on The Island’s Facebook page on Sunday.

Alamedans experienced three Island-wide power outages lasting a total of about an hour on Sunday, including a 47-minute outage (45 minutes if you live east of Sherman Street) that began at 6:29 p.m. The outages caused everything from canceled movie dates to closure of the Main Library, reportedly over safety concerns. Alameda fire officials said they fielded a host of alarm calls triggered by the outages and also calls to rescue people trapped in elevators.

“We had a lot of those today,” Alameda Fire Division Chief Ricci Zombeck said of the elevator calls.

But residents also took the outages as an opportunity to have quiet time at home, enjoying candlelit dinners and time with family.

“Came home to a bunch of candles and cooked dinner by candlelight. Had to light the gas stove manually but it worked out fine. Loved the family time together!” Carol Dutra reported on The Island’s Facebook page.

Local arts publicist Nancy Vicknair said a dinner and flamenco dancing event at C’era Una Volta on Sunday went off as planned – also with the aid of a little candlelight.

“C’era Una Volta in Alameda carried on with a beautiful dinner accompanied by live flamenco dancing and music by candlelight!” she commented on a story on the outages Sunday.

The power went out at 1:59 p.m. and 2:02 p.m. Sunday when a high-voltage transmission line outside of Alameda that is maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric “dropped” service to Alameda, Alameda Municipal Power’s Bill Garvine said Sunday. The third outage, at 6:29 p.m., was caused by work being done to repair the line, and Garvine said that more could occur on Sunday night as the work was being completed.

Some 15,000 customers in Oakland lost power at 2 p.m. Sunday, and that outage – which shut BART’s 12th Street station – continued until 9:25 p.m., PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Monday.

Sarkissian said the cause of the outages is still underway. She said Sunday’s rain and wind may have been the cause, “but we’re not confirming that yet.”

“We do apologize for the inconvenience,” she said.

The transmission lines are part of a grid operated by a state agency and maintained by a host of power companies, including PG&E, Garvine said.

The Alameda Fire Department’s Zombeck offered a host of outage-related safety tips that could also be used for any emergency. He said people need to keep emergency kits with food and water on hand, plus battery-powered light sources. And he reminded people not to leave candles unattended or to use them in a bedroom – where users might fall asleep – at all.

Zombeck also said people should consider piling on blankets instead of using propane, butane or charcoal-powered devices to heat their homes the next time the power goes out. And he advised people to stay home during an emergency, instead of hitting the streets.

“It’s best to just ride it out at home through the night,” Zomebck said.

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