Almost 12,000 households and businesses in portions of Irvine and Newport Beach were still without power Saturday as John Wayne Airport reopened for commercial flights after an hourslong outage grounded and diverted planes the night before, authorities said.
The outage, reported at about 7 p.m., was caused by an electrical vault fire at a Southern California Edison substation at Jamboree Road and Michelson Drive, and it knocked out power for more than 28,000 customers in the area, according to the Irvine Police Department.
Traffic lights at intersections repeatedly flashed red, homes went dark, some residents were evacuated, at least one airport terminal briefly went black and luggage conveyor belts stopped moving, travelers and authorities told KTLA.
Police said up to 50 intersections in Irvine were on “red flash” or blacked out as a result of the power outage. The number went down to at least 17 intersections affected as of 10 a.m. Saturday.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, 11,885 customers were still without power as crews worked overnight to make repairs, according to Southern California Edison. The utility did not say how long it would take to get power restored for everyone.
"Currently, we cannot project outage restoration times. It is possible some customers may be without power for multiple days," the utility said in a written statement. "Our crews continue to assess damage, and are working around the clock to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible."
At least 100 residents were evacuated from their homes at the luxury Villa Siena Apartments on Palatine Friday, but they were allowed to return a short time later, authorities said.
A cooling center for those affected by the power outage was set up at Northwood Community Center on 4531 Bryan Ave. It was expected to stay open until 6 p.m.
“I am closely monitoring the situation with the power outage. I have been in contact with Police Chief Mike Hamel and other key staff. The City Council will provide whatever support is needed to our public safety officials," Irvine Mayor Christina Shea said in a written statement. "I urge residents who have power to conserve energy as Southern California Edison works to resolve this issue."
About two hours after the outage was reported, John Wayne Airport tweeted that all Terminal power was slowly coming back online.
The county-owned airport is on unincorporated land surrounded by Irvine, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
It was unclear exactly which parts of the facility were affected by the outage, but airport officials said general aviation flights were not affected and the air traffic control tower was still open during the outage.
Officials have not provided information on what caused the fire that triggered the outage.
Irvine residents who need information or help because of the outage can call the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.
KTLA' s Brian Day contributed to this report.