Power outage affects downtown, Austin High School

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Power went out for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon in downtown Austin, shutting down traffic signals at busy intersections.

Authorities responded about 1:30 p.m. to the corner of Oakland Avenue and North Main Street, as access doors for a utility crawl space had blown open near the LarsonAllen building.

Smoke initially was coming out of the crawl space, Police Chief Paul Philipp said this morning.


An electrical problem had occurred between that site and a substation just around the corner, on First Street Northwest, Philipp said. Utilities officials eventually resolved the problem.

Police set up mobile, four-way stop signs at a few locations, including the Oakland Avenue and Fourth Avenue intersections with North Main Street. Officers initially had to direct traffic near LarsonAllen.

At one point, a dispatcher could be heard on the police scanner notifying officers of people stuck in an elevator at St. Olaf Lutheran Church because of the power outage.

Philipp said this morning he also had heard of people getting stuck in an elevator at the Twin Towers apartment complex downtown.

Austin High School, city hall and the Law Enforcement Center were among the other places affected by the power outage, Philipp said. The LEC, though, has a backup generator to keep power running to its operations.

The outage affected some of the officers’ new radio channels, Philipp said, which showed the need to adjust how those are used if power is lost to a specific location.

Voting wasn’t affected accept for a short blackout at the high school voting site.

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