Burbank's Police, Cast Into Dark by Outage, Still Function

Times Staff Writer

A mysterious power failure robbed the Burbank Police Department headquarters of the use of its lights and phones Thursday night, and a subsequent failure of an emergency generator kept the station disabled for about four hours, authorities said.

During the outage, Burbank residents' emergency 911 calls to the station were diverted to the Glendale Police Department.

However, dispatchers stayed in touch with patrol cars by using police radios in a trailer on the Burbank station's parking lot, officials said.

Also, a portable generator lent by the Burbank Fire Department provided some power to the station after about an hour, Capt. David Newsham said.

Two phone lines were restored with the help of the generator, Newsham said.

"We never lost contact with our cars," he said. "With police radios, we were always in contact. That was the important thing. We handled everything but non-emergency calls. But it was real frustrating."

No Major Crimes

Apparently no major crimes occurred during the outage, he said.

Burbank power officials said a cable beneath 3rd Street between Olive and Angeleno avenues was the culprit.

"We're still investigating exactly what happened, but that cable just failed to operate around 7 p.m.," said Greg Simay, the city's electrical-services manager. He said the cable is more than 20 years old, but added that it is too early to say that its age caused the problem.

The outage affected about a four-square-block area around the police station, Simay said.

The plunge into darkness came suddenly, Newsham said.

"There was this surge that went up and down, and then everything went black," he said.

For an unknown reason, the station's emergency-power generator, designed to activate automatically during a power failure, did not work, he said.

Current from other underground cables was diverted to provide the area with energy by 10:45 p.m., officials said.

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