US

Power-plant problem caused DC outages Tuesday, evacuations; officials: no terrorism link

  • A security guard turn visitors away from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after widespread power outages cause many of the buildings along the National Mall to shut down temporarily. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

    A security guard turn visitors away from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after widespread power outages cause many of the buildings along the National Mall to shut down temporarily. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chris Cellini of Charlotte, N.C., left, lifts his son Aiden Cellini, 5, onto his shoulders after a visit to the Natural History Museum on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    Chris Cellini of Charlotte, N.C., left, lifts his son Aiden Cellini, 5, onto his shoulders after a visit to the Natural History Museum on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)  (The Associated Press)

  • Visitors to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum wait for it to reopen after widespread power outages caused many of the buildings along the National Mall in Washington to shut down temporarily, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

    Visitors to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum wait for it to reopen after widespread power outages caused many of the buildings along the National Mall in Washington to shut down temporarily, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Widespread power outages affected the White House, State Department, Capitol and other sites across Washington and its suburbs Tuesday afternoon — all because of an explosion at a power plant in southern Maryland, an official said. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)  (The Associated Press)

The U.S. Capitol building had to go on a generator for a time Tuesday, and Metro trains kept running, but on emergency power. Tourists were evacuated from museums. In the White House, President Barack Obama barely noticed.

All this was spurred by problems at an electrical station 35 miles southeast of Washington that caused widespread power outages Tuesday.

The mechanical failure occurred shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday at a transfer station in Charles County, Maryland, that is controlled by utilities serving Washington and southern Maryland.

Homeland security officials in Washington and Maryland said there was an explosion at the station, although the two utilities, Pepco and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, could not immediately confirm that there was a blast or fire. No one was injured, the utilities said.

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Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Brett Zongker, Amanda Lee Myers and Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.