Blackout Hits Downtown L.A.

A blackout hit downtown government buildings, Chinatown and adjacent areas Tuesday, but backup power kept key parts of City Hall and police headquarters running. It was the third significant electrical failure in the city since mid-September.

The blackout began about 9 a.m. and cut power to as many as 1,000 customers, affecting City Hall, the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration (search) and police headquarters at Parker Center (search), said Gale Harris, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Water and Power.

The cause was under investigation, Harris said.

About 700 customers in the Civic Center and Chinatown were still without power in the early afternoon as crews worked to bring customers back on line.

Backup power kicked in at police headquarters, though parts of Parker Center were dark until electricity was fully restored before noon, Harris said. A City Council meeting was in progress when the lights went out, but the meeting continued as City Hall switched to backup power.

Blacked-out stoplights snarled traffic downtown and in Chinatown.

Power failures last month affected 2 million people on Sept. 12 and 40,000 customers in downtown and neighborhoods to the east on Sept. 23.

The Sept. 12 outage lasted 11/2 hours and happened after a utility crew mistakenly cut several lines in the San Fernando Valley (search). The one on Sept. 23 happened while maintenance work was being done. It was over in about five minutes; the cause is under investigation.