SOUTH BEND, Ind.
(AP) — An underground electrical fire left hundreds of homes and
businesses in downtown South Bend without power Friday as thousands of
people are in town for the University of Notre Dame's weekend commencement
Power spokesman Mark Robinson said the utility cut power to downtown South
Bend as a precaution after the fire late Thursday seriously damaged power
circuits in underground vaults that house part of the city's electrical
crews from Fort Wayne and Columbus, Ohio, were helping local crews, but
power wasn't expected to be restored to the area until Sunday evening.
working on the cause; however, it does appear there was extensive damage,"
he told the South Bend Tribune, which was unable to publish Friday's
newspaper after the power outage idled its printing presses.
The Notre Dame
campus, about 2 miles north of downtown South Bend, was not affected by
the outage and was not planning changes to weekend commencement events.
But the school urged students to alert their families and other guests
about the situation so they could check with hotels and restaurants to
ensure those establishments remain open.
The city and
Downtown South Bend Inc. were bringing in two large generators from
Indianapolis to help power the city's Century Center, the DoubleTree hotel
and other downtown businesses, said Scott Ford, South Bend's executive
director of community investment.
"A lot of small
businesses really count on this particular weekend to survive and thrive,"
said Aaron Perri, executive director of Downtown South Bend Inc.
As of Friday
afternoon, the utility said that about 810 of its South Bend customers
remained without power. Police had erected stop signs throughout the
northern Indiana city's downtown after traffic signals went dark.
spokeswoman for Mayor Pete Buttigieg's office, said the outage has closed
South Bend's City-County building, Building Department, South Bend Water
Works and the St. Joseph County Courthouse through Saturday.
Deputy Mayor Mark
Neal said the outage is expected to last for much of the weekend and will
likely impact commencement ceremonies at Notre Dame and St. Mary's
"There is never a
good time for something like this to happen, and with so many people
visiting this weekend for Notre Dame and St. Mary's graduations, the
inconvenience and economic impact will be especially unfortunate," he
Memorial Hospital, which was among the affected businesses, was getting
power from its generators. The hospital was diverting ambulances to other
hospitals, but had not evacuated patients and staff continued treating
emergency room patients.
spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said the outage had not impacted patient care
at the downtown hospital, although the hospital's medical offices were
closed Friday, as was the Day Road cancer center.
"Patient care at
the hospital isn't being affected, that's the most important thing," she
said. "Our staff is asked to report as they are scheduled."