Electrical circuit failure leads to power loss in 14 buildings

A UConn Fire Department fire engine is seen along with Facilities Operations & Building Services vehicles outside the UConn Student Union responding to electrical issues near Laurel Hall on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. (Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus)

Electrical circuits near the Math Building and Laurel Hall blew out around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, leaving nearby buildings and residence halls without power, said university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

A manhole cover outside Laurel was also blown out of its housing. No injuries were reported.

Reitz said Connecticut Commons, MacMahon Residence Hall and the Nathan Hale Inn lost power. Eleven other buildings, including South Parking Garage and the Co-op, were also shut down. 

“The way these things are, it’s not necessarily buildings that are right next to each other,” Reitz said.

Connecticut Commons is being evacuated, and residents have been told that the building will be closed between one and five days, one resident said.

Reitz said several people were stuck in elevators at the time of the power outage but they were removed safely soon after. University of Connecticut Police and Fire Department responded to the blown circuits and trapped students.

The mild weather made it much easier to control the situation, Reitz said. 

UConn Fire Department and Facilities Operations & Building Services staff respond to electrical issues near Laurel Hall on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. (Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus)

“The good news is, even though it’s bad timing for dining halls, we were able to move people to other areas of campus,” Reitz said. 

South Parking Garage cannot be used for visitors to Thursday nights’ Trombone Shorty performance at Jorgensen unless the lights are turned back on by Thursday night, Reitz said. However, the theater itself still has power. 

UConn Maintenance and Facilities is working to get the power back online for evening classes tonight, though it is uncertain how long it will take to restore power to those parts of campus.

“It’s still a question mark,” Reitz said. 

An outage like this occurred about four years ago, but such emergencies are rare, Reitz said.

“It’s not an uncommon occurrence but we are an older campus with old infrastructure,” Reitz said.

Updates on the situation will be sent through the UConn Emergency Alert system. 

Campus correspondent Sarah McNeal contributed reporting. 


Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.shigo@uconn.edu.