UPDATE: South Bend expects power back sooner than original estim - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: South Bend expects power back sooner than original estimates

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The mayor's office now says they expect power to be back up in the city by Noon on Sunday.  Original estimates had put it at 6:30pm Sunday evening.

Indiana Michigan Power said Friday afternoon that employees and contractors finished removing the cable that will have to be replaced due the overnight fire. They have now started the process of installing new cable.  President of Indiana Michigan Power, Paul Chodak said they now have crews coming in from Ohio.

Chodak said they do not yet know the cause of the fire.  He said right now their focus is on power restoration.

The city is bringing in temporary gas-powered lights to help with nighttime safety following the major power outage that started overnight.  Downtown South Bend announced on Twitter that 39 intersection would be getting the lights.  Police have also said they are increasing patrols during the outage.

In a press conference Friday afternoon Deputy Mayor Mark Neal said AT&T is providing generators to some downtown businesses.  He also said the 311 call center is open and will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. - noon.

South Bend Fire Chief Steve Cox said no one has been injured from this yet and they'd like to keep it that way.  That's why he urged anyone using a generator Friday afternoon to have a certified electrician make sure their generator is hooked up properly.  He said there is a plan in place to conduct building inspections to make sure those generators are hooked up correctly.

Chief Cox also said the Fire Department has increased EMS staffing for the power outage, he said he's confident they'll be able to handle all calls that come from this.

Downtown city workers say the outage was caused by a transformer fire near the Chase Building. AEP confirmed they are dealing with an equipment fire, and said they are waiting for the smoke to clear before they can fully assess the damage. AEP estimates the total number of customers affected at 800. 

According to Erica Putt of AEP, the boundaries of the area affected by the outage is north of Sample St., east of Chapin St., south of Northside Blvd., and west of the St. Joseph River.

City officials say that as a result of the outage, the County City Building, St. Joseph County Courthouse, Water Works, Building Department and offices of 311 will all be closed Friday and Saturday and the employees who work there have been instructed to stay home.

Beacon Memorial Hospital in South Bend is running on generators and police confirmed they are diverting incoming patients to other hospitals.  A Memorial Hospital spokesperson says 201 patients are currently being treated in the hospital, including babies. If there are visitors who would like to visit patients in the hospital, they are allowed, but outpatient procedures and elective procedures will be rescheduled. They are working to contact patients in that regard. The phone systems at the hospital are currently offline.  Friday afternoon a hospital spokesperson said they have four generators running and could operate on those generators until early next week if need be.

Dr. Thomas, head of the trauma center, says the trauma service line is up and running. Any patients who require trauma services, Dr. Thomas says they have the capabilities to care for these patients.

South Bend Police Chief Ron Teachman said there have been no traffic accidents due to the power outage.

South Bend Community Schools Corporation announced their administration building is closed due to the power outage, but schools are open.

Deputy Mayor Mark Neal issued a statement on the outage, stressing that police and fire departments are working to maintain public safety throughout. "There is never a good time for something like this to happen," Neal said,  "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."

Aaron Perri of Downtown South Bend says the primary concern is public safety. With Notre Dame's graduation this weekend, they've been working to make sure major centers like the Morris Center, the Century Center and small downtown business are up and running. Major power generators are on their way from Indianapolis to keep major businesses going. He says you can follow #DTSBPowerOut on twitter for the latest updates.   In Friday afternoon's press conference Perri said Downtown is open for business.  He said all major events will go on as planned.  For a list of what is open and what's not in Downtown South Bend click here.


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