Fire causes blackout in Southern California, grounds flights at John Wayne Airport

Some passengers were stranded after a ground stop at John Wayne Airport in Orange County because of the power outage.
Image: Los Angeles Exteriors And Landmarks - 2016
This July 18, 2016, photo shows John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.FG/Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

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By Phil Helsel

An electrical fire at a substation is being blamed for a power blackout Friday night that knocked out power to some 28,000 customers in Southern California and grounded all flights at John Wayne Airport.

Power was expected to be out throughout the night, the Irvine Police Department said in a statement. The fire at the substation occurred in the city of around 210,000 south of Los Angeles.

John Wayne Airport in Orange County imposed a ground stop for all commercial flights until 7 a.m. Saturday.

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“I have a birthday party for my father tomorrow morning, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make that,” stranded passenger Carla Cerqueira told NBC Los Angeles. She was trying to make arrangements to fly out of Los Angeles to get to New Jersey.

The airport announced a power outage at the terminal on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m., and shortly thereafter said it was in a full ground stop. It later said that terminal power was starting to come back online, but that the ground would remain until Saturday morning.

For flights departing Saturday, the airport urged travelers to check with their airlines.

Irvine police said the power outage affected up to 50 intersections, which were operating on "red flash" or blacked out.

Utility company Southern California Edison said crews were working to restore power to customers.

John Wayne Airport says on its website that it serves more than 10 million passengers annually.

Some passengers were taking it in stride.

"It is what it is," Steve Roth, who said they got a flight to Portland and then to Seattle in hopes of attending a wedding Saturday, told NBC Los Angeles.