An underground electrical equipment fire caused a power outage in parts of downtown Omaha Sunday night as more than 2,000 were without power. As of 10:30 a.m. Monday, OPPD reported less than 100 customers in the area were still without power. By 4:30 p.m. Monday, four customers didn't have electricity.
The outage stretched from 11th Street to just west of 20th, from Leavenworth to Farnam.
Due to the outage, the Douglas County Courthouse was closed Monday. Those who are scheduled to appear in court are being sent next door to the Douglas County City building. The MUD building at 17th and Harney was also closed. It will be open for regular business on Tuesday.
OPPD says a transformer blew around 5:45 p.m. Smoke was coming from an open manhole after two underground explosions blew off the cover near 17th Street and St. Mary's Avenue. OPPD is still trying to figure out why a cable failed, causing the fire in a network vault. It was extinguished around 7:15 p.m. OPPD crews were assessing the damage and working to restore power. At the height of the blackout, nearly 3,000 customers were without power.
“I had no idea what floor I was on." Dakota Braun was stuck in an elevator at her apartment building near 16th and Howard. “There was probably about five minutes where the lights were off and it was pitch black. All by myself. Never been stuck in an elevator before. It was really scary, actually." She was in there for a half-hour.
“It was pretty packed.” Channel 6 News meteorologist Jill Gilardi had to finish dinner in the dark at Stokes restaurant in the Old Market. “You saw people with candles so that you could finish up your meal."
"We used our cellphones and navigated our way in there," said Jen McCune of Omaha, speaking of what happened when it was time to visit the restroom.
The power outage made for a memorable night for Stephanie Sharp of Omaha. “It’s my birthday.”