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South County : Fire Causes Power Loss to 5,200 Customers

Fire in an underground electrical cable knocked out power to about 5,200 South Orange County homes and businesses Monday and caused a raw sewage spill that forced closure of a beach near Dana Point, authorities said.

The outage occurred at 8 a.m., when fire burned through a cable under the intersection of Stonehill Drive and Niguel Road, causing circuit failures that affected customers in Dana Point, and parts of Laguna Niguel, Monarch Bay and San Juan Capistrano, said Karen Duncan, spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

The power failure also disabled a pump at a South Laguna waste-water treatment plant, sending as much as 3,000 gallons of raw sewage onto a beach down the coast from Salt Creek County Park and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. A spokeswoman at the South County Water District treatment plant said an emergency generator took over until power was restored.

Michael P. Wehner, a county health official in charge of water quality, said the beach has been posted as unsafe for swimmers and probably will be closed to them for about two days.

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Wehner described the spill as “a relatively small overflow from a manhole” after the pump failure. It affected only about 50 to 100 feet of beach, he said.

Duncan said service to about half the customers was restored by 10:23 a.m. Power was restored to the remaining customers by 11:40 a.m.

Cause of the cable blaze was under investigation, but “no foul play is suspected,” Duncan said.


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