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Power outage shuts down campus

, and | Friday, February 28, 2014

The entire Notre Dame campus lost power around 9 p.m. Thursday evening for “undetermined reasons,” according to University spokesman Dennis Brown.

20140227-20140227, Power Outage, Wei LinWei Lin | The Observer

“Power was restored across the campus at 10:33,” Brown said. “No injuries were reported. Power plant personnel are working to determine the cause.”

Brown confirmed that people had been trapped in elevators during the outage, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half.

Certain locations on campus, including residence halls, quickly regained power after the outage, reportedly through backup generators. Just before 10:30 p.m., some buildings on the north end of campus regained power, and at 10:33 p.m. the rest of campus recovered it as well.

Firefighters and police flocked to the power plant on North Quad after the outage began.

Brandon Russo, a sophomore employee at the Huddle, said he noticed unusual amounts of smoke coming from the plant as he evacuated the LaFortune Student Center.

“The power plant looked like it was working overtime — there was a lot of steam,” he said.

Russo said he saw the Hesburgh Library and buildings on North Quad buildings lose power.

“The [Huddle] register went off, and then the fire alarm turned on,” he said. “We went outside and North Quad and the library had lights on, then went down.”

Adam Hill, manager of operations for the Student Activities Office (SAO) facilities, said employees in LaFortune followed “standard protocol” during the incident.

“We always look to ensure the safety of the students first, so we allowed students to be on the first floor hallway while the fire alarm was going off so they could stay out of the cold,” Hill said. “We wanted to make sure we were a safe haven for the students.”

Hill said he maintained communication with other SAO and University representatives in order to prioritize student needs.

“I was in contact with my supervisor [director of SAO facilities Brian Fremeau]. He was in contact with the University spokesman and his boss,” Hill said. “We were getting directions very quickly, and that’s how we were able to make the decision to let students back in. … We wanted to make sure we were a safe haven for students.”

Diane Orlowski, library security monitor at the Hesburgh Library, said staff members asked students to evacuate.

“We cleared the building because the elevators weren’t working,” she said. “Once the decision was made [to evacuate], it took maybe 10 minutes to clear it.”

Senior Shelley Kim said she heard a “buzzing sound like a dog whistle” in the library, followed by a louder noise.

“Out of nowhere, with a snap of your fingers, all the lights went out,” she said.

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About Lesley Stevenson

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