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Stanford University Cancels Classes Due to Power Failure

University staff were scrambling Tuesday to re-key entrances to student dorms and residence halls while PG&E investigated possible fire damage to its systems near Emerald Hills. College of San Mateo also lost power.

The Hoover Tower at Stanford University in Palo Alto Calif.
The Hoover Tower at Stanford University in Palo Alto Calif.
(TNS) — Power went down throughout Stanford University on Tuesday afternoon, possibly owing to the failure of one of the main PG&E transmission lines that supplies the campus, according to university officials.

In a tweet, officials said the main line was "reportedly down" and that workers were trying to shift to an alternate line, though they could not anticipate when the outage would end. They warned that if the outage continues, "card access doors may power down and lock automatically."

University staff scrambled to re-key the main entrance of each student dorm and residence hall "so room or apartment keys will provide access," officials tweeted.

While smoke plumes from the nearby Edgewood Fire in San Mateo County were visible from campus on Tuesday, spokesperson E.J. Miranda said they did not appear to threaten the university as of 4:30 p.m.

College of San Mateo also lost power on Tuesday, prompting the campus to close and cancel all in-person classes. Officials tweeted that the school would reopen on Wednesday.

As of 9:30 p.m. Stanford students and faculty were still in the dark, with no anticipated time for power to return.

"PG&E has not provided an estimated time of power restoration, due to damage to their equipment located in the fire area near Emerald Hills," which is the Edgewood Fire region, university officials tweeted Tuesday night.

The university canceled classes and day camps scheduled for Wednesday, provided portable light stations to dorms and encouraged staff to work from home if possible.

PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado said that at 2:20 p.m. the utility had started receiving reports from San Mateo County customers — including Stanford — saying their power had sputtered. Crews began working with emergency responders to restore power to about 8,900 people, institutions and businesses in parts of Burlingame, Hillsborough, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo and Woodside.

"We are actively looking to connect impacted customers to other sections of our electrical system," to get their electricity flowing as quickly as possible, Tostado wrote, noting that the cause of the outage was under investigation.

The utility's outage map showed significant blackouts west of San Carlos and San Mateo, but the Stanford outage did not show up.

Some generators at the university were coming online as of 4:30 p.m. and power was being restored to critical areas. But many people had lost cell phone service, as well as air conditioning on a scorching day.

Staff at the university opened the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons and EVGR Pavilion to anyone seeking relief from the torrid weather and blackouts, noting that food service would be limited to the Wilbur Dining, Florence Moore and Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.

Chronicle staff writer Emma Talley contributed to this report.

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