Power outage leaves Cafe La Taza dark at lunch time. Photo by Michael Nolan

Businesses went dark on two blocks of Mission Street after some electrical equipment at the intersection of 20th and Mission apparently exploded and sent sparks raining down onto the street at 10 a.m. Friday.

“We heard a loud boom — a really loud boom — enough for people to get scared,” said Hugo Gonzalez, the owner of Compupod, an electronics-repair store on Mission between 20th and 21st streets. Then, he said, “Everything went out.”

As his mother was getting into work, he said, she saw large sparks raining down onto the street immediately following the loud boom. He said a few minutes later firefighters responded, and PG&E arrived around 15 minutes later.

Crews were still working at the intersection around 1 p.m., as police directed traffic at the intersections on 20th and 21st, where the traffic lights had gone out. Indeed, most businesses between 20th and 21st streets on Mission were still without power by 1 p.m. At around 12:45 p.m., the lights were still out at Gonzalez’s store. He said that, of course, the outage hindered his business. “Some stores do have power,” he said. “It’s bad for us, good for them.”

At around 1 p.m., many proprietors milled about on Mission Street, looking confused and frustrated that their electricity was still out. “They way they’re going, it’s going to be tomorrow night,” yelled one store owner.

“More like Sunday,” replied another.

Pete Koutoulas, who owns Pete’s Barbecue at 20th and Mission, said he also heard a loud a boom around 10 a.m. and saw large sparks fall into the street. The restaurant was dark at around 12:45 p.m. One customer approached, looking disappointed that the eatery had its doors closed and lights out. “Want some cold chicken?” an employee named Gus said to the man, joking.

A PG&E employee, observing work being performed on an electrical pole at the intersection of 20th and Mission, said it was too soon to identify the problem. “We’re still troubleshooting,” he said. “All I can say, is it was an unexpected outage.”

PG&E has not yet returned Mission Local’s requests for comment.

Update, 1:55 p.m.: PG&E’s Andrea Menniti sent us a note: Here’s the info about the power outage: An outage occurred shortly after 10 a.m. near Mission and 20th Streets. PG&E crews responded, assessed the situation, and restored approximately half of the customers impacted by the outage. Currently, approximately 130 customers remain without power as crews continue to safely make repairs. The cause of the outage remains under investigation, but it’s likely equipment failure played a role. Crews are working safely and as quickly as possible to restore the reaming 130 customers.

PG&E crews work on the electrical equipment in question at 20th and Mission Streets. Photo by Julian Mark.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. PG&E typically runs it’s equipment to failure in order to be able to replace it at “emergency rates” rather than planned maintenance. They also under size wiring to force property owners to pay for upgrades.