UPDATE: Power could be restored soon than expected in downtown S - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Power could be restored soon than expected in downtown South Bend

Indiana Michigan Power crews will be underground splicing new cables as the next step to return power Indiana Michigan Power crews will be underground splicing new cables as the next step to return power
Updated: 9:00pm
Indiana Michigan Power says power could be restored in downtown South Bend, sooner than expected. "Right now it's going to be some time after daybreak from that accelerated timeline to hopefully be somewhere after 7 o'clock in the morning but before noon," says I&M Vice President, Tom Kratt.

Kratt says crews have been working aggressively and may even be a bit ahead of schedule to return power. All throughout Friday crews removed the old, existing cables that were damaged by the fire and replaced them with new ones. Kratt says several thousand feet of new cables were put in.

"One thing people won't see today is they won't see a lot of people above the street working, all of our work right now is below the street," Kratt said.

The work being done below is to splice the new cables into the existing network. Kratt believes this will take 8-12 hours to complete. Additional crews from Fort Wanye and Columbus, Ohio have joined the South Bend crews. “We're fully staffed now to run 24 hour operation to stay on this thing until it's completed," Kratt said.

As part of safety requirements, one member of the crew will be stationed at the man hole while the rest of the crew is underground. "We have opened man holes and opened vaults around. We know there's going to be a lot of people down here for the graduations so we're making sure that everyone kind of steers clear of the area," Kratt said.

There are two systems of cables running underground in downtown South Bend; high voltage and low voltage. Kratt believes the fire started with a faulty cable in the low voltage system. He says a forensic expert will be called in next week to study the old cables to determine the exact cause.

Deputy Mayor Mark Neal says he understands that the power outage was an inconvenience to businesses and the community as a whole. He asks that residents continue to play their part and be aware of their surroundings if they are in downtown South Bend. "With all those intersections with stop signs, please be careful. we've had no incidents so far. Let's keeps that to be the case," Neal said.

Once the splicing is complete the next step is to test the system which Kratt says can take 7-8 hours. Then the system will be reset followed by the Indiana Michigan Power dispatch center switching the grid on to bring power up to the area.

Kratt says it is best if those affected by the power outage turn off appliances, light switches, air conditioners and anything else they can before the power is turned back on. He says having lower power requirements to fill maximizes the opportunity of power coming on in the area.

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