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Montana Tech Investigating Explosion Behind Power Outage

An apparent explosion Sunday morning caused a power outage at Montana Technological University, prompting the institution to shut down its data center for a time and use generators to support essential systems on campus.

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Credit: Montana Technological University Facebook page
(TNS) — Montana Technological University hopes to be fully operational by Tuesday morning as power was restored Monday to all of campus except the Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Complex.

Chancellor Les Cook said a cause for the outage that began Sunday morning and affected nearly all of campus was still undetermined as of Monday afternoon, when power was restored gradually.

"They are still investigating the cause," he said.

NorthWestern Energy determined Sunday afternoon that the infrastructure in question was Montana Tech's and not the utility's.

But Cook said NorthWestern employees were helping Monday as campus staff and a contractor worked to restore power and determine the cause.

"Their goal has been to isolate where it occurred," he said.

Staff and students on campus, as well as some Butte residents, heard a loud boom Sunday. Reports of a possible explosion led to a response around 11 a.m. by police, fire and rescue personnel. No one was injured.

Cook said the apparent explosion occurred in a manhole and that it blew off the cover.

He said the university shut down its data center for a time and brought in generators to support places on campus that required sustained power. Food services was able to shift food that needed refrigeration to the Student Success Center, which did not lose power during the outage.

©2022 The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.