Puerto Rico Blackout After Explosion, Fire at Power Station

June 11, 2021 Updated: June 11, 2021

Puerto Rico was left in the dark Thursday after a large fire caused power outages throughout the island, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without electricity.

An explosion and subsequent fire at power firm LUMA Energy’s Monacillos power distribution substation in the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan, caused the widespread outages, the Canadian company said.

“The fire caused major blackouts across the entire island. The situation is under assessment and work is being done to restore the system,” utility company LUMA Energy said on Twitter, noting that restoration efforts would continue overnight.

The Puerto Rico Fire Department confirmed on Twitter that it was tackling a blaze at the San Juan substation.

At the height of the power outage, at least 700,000 Puerto Ricans were without power, and at least 400,000—more than 1 in 10 residents—still had no power late Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

In its latest update on the social media platform, midnight Friday, LUMA Energy said about 60,000 residents were still affected by the power outage.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement on Twitter that the cause of the explosion is under investigation by state and federal law enforcement authorities.

“All the resources of the PR government are available to handle the emergency caused by the fire at the Monacillos substation in Río Piedras. Firefighters have already arrived on the scene to handle the situation. As soon as [firefighters] confirm more details, we will let you know,” Pierluisi wrote.

“The priority must be to re-establish the electrical service as soon as possible and our people can rest assured that we are making sure that this is the case,” he added. “At the same time, as soon as we have the results of the investigations related to the cause of this incident, whoever is responsible for it will have to answer to the People of Puerto Rico.”

No injuries have been reported so far.

Hours before the explosion, LUMA said a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack” on its website was blocking customers from accessing their accounts.

“The DDoS attack was identified and has been issuing 2 million visits per second,” LUMA Energy said in a statement. “As a result, many clients may have had difficulty accessing the information related to their accounts.”

“The attack has been reported to the relevant authorities and LUMA awaits the results of an ongoing investigation,” the company added.

It isn’t clear if the two incidents are related.

LUMA Energy has been in charge of Puerto Rico’s power grid since June 1. It was chosen by the island in June 2020 to operate and modernize its transmission and distribution system.