City Hit By Power Failure

No Serious Damage Reported in 40-Minute Outage

A 40-minute power failure struck Harvard and much of West Cambridge yesterday morning, trapping students in the elevators at Mather and Leverett Houses.

But the power failure, which was first reported at 10:52 a.m., resulted in no injuries at Harvard. David Desroches, a representative of Com-Electric, the company which supplies electricity to this area, said that electricity supply was resumed within 40 minutes of the incident.

The River houses, the athletic facilities, the Business School, the Observatory and most of the Freshman Yard were affected by the power loss, said Henry Hawks, an official from Harvard Facilities Maintenance.

Neither the Science Center nor the Office of Information Technology--the main computer facilities at Harvard--lost power, Hawks said.

The electricity that supplies Harvard and many of the homes and business in West Cambridge and Belmont comes from a station owned by Boston Electric to a substation in Alewife. It is transmitted through the Com-Electric's Alewife Bulk Cambridge station, Desroches said.


The cause of the failure appeared, to be the interruption of the power sent from the station in Boston, Desroches said. He said he thought that a transformer at the Alewife station went off line--stopped working--causing the power loss. Com-Electric plans to prepare a full report on the incident, he said.

According to a student in Literature and the Arts C-43, "The Medieval Court," Professor of German Eckehard Simon said when the power went out, "Well I guess if the clock stopped we can continue to have class forever." But the student said that Simon was forced to dismiss the class early because, without electricity, he could not play the music that was part of the lecture.

An official at the Cambridge Fire Department said that many fire and burglar alarms were set off by the power surge, but he added that no fires resulted from the incident.