Southern California Edison equipment failure causes campus-wide power outage


The lower level of the Student Services Center goes dark as the effects of the power outage are seen campus-wide on Tuesday, Aug. 27. Within 30 minutes, a fire occurred at the Pool and Classroom Building construction site but the two incidents were unrelated, Executive Director of Facilities and Planning Jorge Gutierrez said. Ryan Farrell/The Union

A Southern California Edison (SCE) equipment failure caused a grid-wide power outage that affected El Camino College at 2:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, authorities said.

SCE restored power to the EC campus at 3:40 p.m. by rerouting electricity from a neighboring SCE power grid for temporary use, Assistant Director of EC Facilities and Planning Robert Brobst said. The power grid that normally services electricity to the EC campus was restored at 5:42 p.m.

SCE spokeswoman Taelor Bakewell said the grid-wide power outage was caused by equipment failure at one of their sites. She said she could not comment on the specific details of the incident other than that it was an equipment failure.

Bakewell could not comment on how many people the outage impacted but said it affected 1,959 customers, which SCE defines as facilities it services. Bakewell added that SCE records stated the power outage began at 2:34 p.m.

During the power outage, elevators in six different buildings sent out emergency distress signals and returned to the ground floor of their respective buildings according to the EC Facilities and Planning Department.

Chief of the El Camino College Police Department (ECCPD) Michael Trevis confirmed that one elevator entrapment occurred in the library due to the power outage. The passengers in the elevator were evacuated by Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) firefighters who arrived on scene shortly after the initial report according to ECCPD.

The elevators in all six buildings were out of service until the following day at 2:30 p.m. when technicians approved the elevators to return to service after performing safety tests and maintenance, Brobst said.

“We have to wait for authorized technicians to come to the school and reset the elevators,” Brobst said. “We don’t have any staff on campus who work on the elevators.”

Brobst added that the main issue associated with the power grid is its structure.

“The electrical system is like a large wire-mesh,” Brobst added. “It is amazing that they rerouted the power so quickly after the outage was reported.”

Brobst added that whenever there is an outage, the EC Facilities and Planning Department monitors the situation live as updates are received from SCE.

A small fire also occurred on the same day at the Pool and Classroom Building construction site within a half-hour after the power outage began. These two events were confirmed to be unrelated by Jorge Gutierrez, executive director of Facilities and Planning.

Gutierrez said that sparks from welders in the construction zone landed on plastic directly below the welding site, causing it to burn. The fire was extinguished by construction workers on-site at the time, prior to LACFD firefighters arriving on the scene.