The power was restored Saturday afternoon to about 95 percent of the remaining 200 Downtown Sioux Falls customers that were without power overnight, officials with Xcel Energy said.
The massive outage started after a fire yesterday morning burned below downtown streets for nearly three hours. It buckled a sidewalk, sending smoke pouring into the streets.
The fire was traced to underground electrical equipment, but the cause remains under investigation. It happened near the intersection of 9th street and Minnesota Avenue, shutting off power and closing off streets near much of downtown's busiest commercial area.
Originally about 500 customers were without power, many saw power restored before noon on Friday. Xcel Energy officials say it could be Sunday Morning before power is restored for about 10 of its remaining customers who were closest to the explosion.
But for the most part, there were a lot of very happy and relieved business owners in downtown Sioux Falls Saturday afternoon.
"It was the most excited I have ever been to see a light bulb back on in my life," said Joann Messersmith with Legacy Real Estate.
After more than 24 hours with their doors closed, these businesses were ready and waiting to open their stores and see some customers.
The power started to come back on just before 1:00pm Saturday, but after nearly 32 hours without heat, it took a good amount of time for some of the buildings to heat back up.
Many businesses were scrambling Friday afternoon to hook up generators for emergency heat in an effort to prevent water pipes from freezing.
These high power generators could be seen in back alley ways throughout downtown Sioux Falls.
Electric companies were busy trying to locate enough generators to meet the needs of the many buildings without power, but for most businesses, the generators weren't about opening their doors for customers. It was simply a way to protect their property.
"Heat and frozen pipes—it wasn't a matter of people being comfortable or not, it wasn't a matter of closing your business doors, it really was a matter of how long this would go on and rupturing water pipes and doing significant property damage," said Messersmith.
It wasn't a cheap precautionary measure either—businesses who rented some of the larger generators could spend tens of thousands of dollars while the smaller generators cost just less than two thousand dollars.
The businesses who didn't spring for a generator still lost plenty of money during this power outage. Several Phillips Avenue store owners said every hour their doors are closed, they are loosing money. Another reason they are happy to have back on for business this evening.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 8:54 AM EDT2013-06-19 12:54:36 GMT
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