BLACKOUT SHUTS ISLAND DOWN

14 Jul 2005

Fire at BELCO puts Bermuda in darkness

By Sam Stevens
The Royal Gazette

A massive explosion in the early hours of Thursday morning at Bermuda's sole power plant caused an Island-wide blackout and panic buying at gas stations and the hardware stores. Dozens of exhausted firefighters laboured courageously in unimaginable heat to quell the 60 foot flames, which sent out thick clouds of black smoke across the dawn sky.

A systems failure on one of the plant's main power transmission boards is believeed to be the source of the blast - although BELCO chiefs said they could not be sure until a full investigation had been completed.

Despite the devastation, BELCO president Gary Madeiros said he was "confident" the majority of Bermuda's resident's homes would have power by the end of the day. But he urged everyone to conserve as much electricity as they could.

Premier Alex Scott was awakened at 3 a.m. by a call from Mr. Madeiros and along with Home Affairs Minister Randy Horton, chaired a meeting of the Emergency Measures Organisation at 6 a.m.

Hundreds of businesses were forced to shut down for the day, with many employees deciding to spend the unexpected vacation lounging on the beach.



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