I&M reveals cause of downtown South Bend power outage

A lead-insulated cable is the culprit behind a large downtown South Bend power outage.

Back on May 16, DTSB residents woke up to find dark streets. The lights were out during a date that is supposed to be a bright spot in the local economy - graduation weekend.

Indiana Michigan Power crews were initially in the dark about what caused the outage. Their main focus was repairing the damage left behind after a manhole fire. The risk for further heat damage forced I&M officials to shut down the entire network, which interrupted service to more than 700 customers.

After weeks of investigating, they found a cause for the manhole fire.

An old, lead-insulated cable overheated in a manhole and damaged a cable next to it. This caused gases to build up underground and led to the flames.

Company president Paul Chodak said I&M was already in the process of replacing these old cables, but hadn't gotten to this particular cable yet.

I&M plans to bring in outside resources to quickly replace the lead-insulated cables throughout the area. They will also focus on decreasing the number of primary cables in each manhole from five to two.

The last outage this large happened in 2001. I&M had to spend millions of dollars upgrading the network.

There is still no word on how much the repairs will cost this time around.

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