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Part of South Coast Plaza was shut...

Part of South Coast Plaza was shut down Friday night and 200 people were evacuated after a transformer atop Bullock’s exploded, igniting a fire and causing a widespread power outage.

The explosion in the self-contained transformer occurred about 9 p.m., just before the mall’s scheduled close. It started a second-alarm fire, but the extent of damage was not immediately known. Firefighters from Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana responded, extinguishing the fire in less than an hour.

It also caused a power outage to 5,300 Edison Co. customers in the area, a company spokesman said.

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One man reportedly was trapped for a time in a parking lot elevator.

Bennigan’s restaurant in the plaza parking lot was packed at about 9 p.m. when the lights went out, said senior manager Keith Richardson.

“The power went out for about 30 seconds, and it came back on and flickered for a couple of minutes, and then it completely went out for about an hour and a half,” he said.

Richardson said they had to close the restaurant both for security reasons and because they could no longer cook.

“It looked like quite a stir outside of Saks Fifth Avenue,” near Bullock’s he said. Edison told Bennigan’s management the outage was expected to last about four hours, he said.

However, the Edison spokesman said all power was restored by 10:23 p.m.

Police and the California Highway Patrol directed traffic while street lights were out in the area.


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