A large fire at an electrical substation of Puerto Rico’s new electricity supplier Luma Energy cut power to hundreds of thousands of islanders on Thursday.
At the height of the blackout, nearly 800,000 customers were without power, according to Luma. At midnight Friday, around 60,000 customers were still in the dark.
“The fire caused major blackouts across the island. The situation is being assessed and work is underway to restore the system,” LUMA Energy tweeted.
The fire and blackout weren’t the only crises Luma faced on Thursday.
Earlier today, the company announced that its customer portal and mobile app had fallen victim to a cyberattack that disrupted customers’ access to its online services.
The DDoS attack, or distributed denial of service attack, generated 2 million visits per second to the customer portal and mobile app, affecting the ability of many customers to access account information, according to Luma.
The company said in a statement that it “regrets that its customers suffered any inconvenience the attack may have caused and looks forward to continuing to provide them with an exceptional customer service experience.”
It is not known if the fire and the DDoS attack are connected.
Luma has only been in his new role as the island’s electrical authority for 10 days. The island’s former energy supplier, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, has had its own notorious struggles with power outages, bankruptcies and overall mismanagement in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Authorities had warned residents to be patient as the transition began, as Luma inherited a fragile electrical infrastructure. But even before Thursday’s blackout, more than a million customers were without power this month alone, not including those affected by the substation fire, according to the Associated Press. .
Governor of Puerto Rico calls for investigation
The fire started at a transformer at the Monacillo de Luma substation in San Juan, according to the company. Police and firefighters responded to the scene. No injuries were reported.
In a message shared on social networks, Governor Pedro Pierluisi called the incident an “explosion”.
Pierluisi said federal and state law enforcement authorities were investigating.
RUPTURE: Much of Metro Puerto Rico, the most populous area on the island, is currently without power after an explosion and fire at a power plant in San Juan. I am working to get more information from @lumaenergypr which has yet to release details. pic.twitter.com/3ejpfBIH89
– David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 10, 2021
He added: “Whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the people of Puerto Rico.”
FBI San Juan said they were “evaluating” the power outage and encouraged people with information to come forward.
The blackout comes as the island is still working to vaccinate its residents against the coronavirus. Vaccines must be stored at low temperature to remain viable.
The Secretary of Health of the Island Carlos Mellado López said in a tweet that hospital services on the island remain uninterrupted and that vaccines are always safe. “Our suppliers have generators and we have over 70 help desks to keep them safe,” he wrote.