SF business says they will lose $50,000+ due to power outage caused by underground fire

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Friday, April 28, 2023
SF business says they will lose $50,000+ due to power outage
San Francisco's Barbarossa Lounge says they will lose more than $50,000 due to a power outage caused by an underground fire.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Hundreds are still without power in San Francisco and one business tells us they are losing thousands of dollars because of it. The outage in parts of San Francisco's Financial District and North Beach neighborhood is being blamed on an underground fire that happened Wednesday night.

Viewer video sent to us Thursday showed the underground transformer fire that burned. Flames could be seen shooting out of a manhole, and smoke coming out of another manhole near Clay and Montgomery.

"There was a big ball of orange flame with greasy black smoke that billowed out of two different manholes," said Amy Zubreski.

While the fire is now out, so are the lights for hundreds of customers.

"We're just hoping that we get the power back up as soon as possible," said the owner of San Francisco's Barbarossa Lounge. He tells us the power went out Wednesday night during a private event which was then forced to end early with tabs left open. The owner was told that the power may not come back on until 10 a.m. Saturday. A huge loss on a very busy weekend.

MORE: Is there any way to get repaid for food lost during a power outage?

"You have the convention with security, the RSA convention. You also have the Warriors game. We were sold out for the Warriors game and then weekends are typically our biggest night so you're looking at an estimate of $50,000 plus, plus all the perishable stuff that are no longer good," said the owner.

There was talk of bringing in a generator for the lounge but a large one would be needed, and management believes it would be too loud for the residential neighborhood.

There are small generators going full blast at the end of the block for a special event at another location. One that drew dozens of people eager to meet and listen to Japanese architect Shigeru Ban who is speaking at a location without electricity.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin says the fire department responded within three minutes but it took PG&E, most experienced with electrical fires, 45 minutes to get there.

"It's a freaking mess! PG&E has a lot of explaining to do as to how they allowed this fire to burn this long, why they don't have redundancy, and why this is going to massively inconvenience thousands and thousands of people," said Peskin.

MORE: Berkeley restaurant on verge of bankruptcy after persistent power outages cost $100K in losses

Those with PG&E say their crews are working around the clock to try and get the power back on. They also say the cause of this fire is under investigation.

The port of San Francisco says three cruise ships are scheduled to arrive this weekend.

If power is not restored - the port will be prepared to use backup generators to power the Pier 27 facility.

For decades now, San Francisco has not allowed cruise ships to burn their own fuel when docked, relying instead on shore side power.

But if the power isn't back by Friday morning, ships will have to burn their own fuel.

Here is the statement that PG&E sent us Thursday at 9:31 p.m.

"The safety of our customers, coworkers, and the communities we serve is our highest priority. PG&E crews are working as quickly as possible to restore power to customers in San Francisco after an outage impacted approximately 9,454 customers at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, when we were alerted that underground equipment damage had occurred. PG&E crews immediately responded to the scene near Clay Street and Montgomery, and worked with first responders to make the area safe.

Crews have been working around the clock to assess the damage to underground facilities which serve the impacted area and have been able to restore power to all but 495 customers as of 10:30 a.m. today, April 27, by connecting them to nearby power sources.

Due to extensive damage to underground equipment in the area, PG&E expects to restore power by 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, to the remaining customers who are served directly by the damaged equipment. We know how disruptive it is to be without power and have brought in additional crews and resources to bolster restoration efforts.

The exact cause of the outage is still under investigation. We apologize for the inconvenience and will continue to provide restoration updates to our customers until power is fully restored.

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