BRYAN, Texas – A transformer explosion sparked a power outage that affected an estimated 86,000 homes and businesses in Bryan, College Station and four surrounding counties and left some in the dark for hours, officials said.
The Tuesday evening outage prompted some businesses to close early and created traffic jams at several intersections in the Bryan-College Station area. Police reported several accidents but no major injuries.
Most Tuesday evening activities at Texas A&M University were canceled, but power was restored for the roughly 10,000 students living on campus at about 11 p.m.
Officials said rolling blackouts were possible overnight Tuesday. Power was expected to be fully restored by Wednesday morning, said Tom Hancock, group manager for Bryan Texas Utilities.
The problem originated from the Gibbons Creek substation in Grimes County, which is operated by the Texas Municipal Power Agency. Agency officials said late Tuesday that the cause of the blast was under investigation.
“I don’t know how it happened,” said Rick Gurley, transmission manager for the agency. “There was some internal problem. A very detailed investigation will be done.”
The blackout took the greatest toll on customers of College Station Utilities and Bryan Texas Utilities, although electricity was also knocked out for a smaller number of customers in Grimes, Madison, Robertson and Burleson counties.
Texas A&M University Police Chief Elmer Schneider said the power outage prompted a rush of calls from students and parents. Students were told to report to class on Wednesday, he said.
Before campus power was restored, freshman Ashley Schroeder said she decided to drive home to Houston rather than stay in her dorm room without air conditioning or lights. She said she planned to return in time for an 8 a.m. class on Wednesday.
“I’m sure the electricity will come back on right when I get out of town,” she said. “But everyone’s either leaving or hanging out outside because it’s so hot. It was kind of scary, too, because the security is out. You usually have to swipe a card to get in, but it’s not working. Anyone can get in and out of the dorms.”