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Power outage paralyzes downtown Duluth

About 5,400 Minnesota Power customers, mainly in downtown Duluth, temporarily lost electrical service shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday. Amy Rutledge, manager of corporate communications for Minnesota Power, said the cause of the outage remained und...

Traffic
A pedestrian crosses Mesaba Avenue at First Street in front of backed-up vehicles on Thursday, May 2, 2013. The traffic lights were out at the intersection -- part of a blackout affecting an estimated 5,400 Minnesota Power customers. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

About 5,400 Minnesota Power customers, mainly in downtown Duluth, temporarily lost electrical service shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday.

Amy Rutledge, manager of corporate communications for Minnesota Power, said the cause of the outage remained undetermined Thursday evening.

Most affected customers had power restored by 4:30 p.m., but the Incline Station remained without electrical service as of 6:30 p.m.

Rutledge said a feeder line serving downtown Duluth locked out, and crews were working to repair it. The final problems had been traced to an underground cable near Lenox Place, 701 W. Superior St.

Downtown organizations, businesses and customers experienced inconveniences Thursday afternoon because of the power outage.

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Employees of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra on Superior Street weren't able to complete ticket transactions for the roughly hour and a half that power was out because they are done by computer.

"My desk was covered with orders," said Meghan Gengler, box office manager for the DSSO, when the power went out. "We have a really big concert on Saturday and we can't sell tickets to it."

John Behrens was at Starbucks when power shut down. The baristas weren't able to fill orders for anything but coffee, he said.

Bagley & Company Jeweler, also on Superior Street, closed during the outage. The store does so for the security of its merchandise and safety of its employees, manager Jim Fisher said.

The lights went out when the store's grandfather clock struck 2:45 p.m., Fisher said. Customers had to be temporarily locked in until the power flickered on briefly a few minutes later.

"It's kind of an inconvenience," Fisher said. "We had a busy morning, so our day isn't taking a huge dive. But it's important for security purposes to shut down."

Carol Jean Brooks of Duluth was waiting to get into Bagley & Co. toward the end of the outage. She had just been to Security Jewelers a few feet away.

"I walked into Security and it was dark. ... People were lined up at the counters and I thought it was a bar," she said. "I thought I walked into the wrong door."

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News Tribune staff writer Peter Passi contributed to this report.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA POWER
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