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081018-blm-loc-1fuse (copy)

This high voltage electrical fuse blew after a bird short-circuited power lines around 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation Plant on West Oakland Avenue. The blown fuse caused a loss of power to about 9,000 Ameren customers from Bloomington-Normal to El Paso.

BLOOMINGTON — Power was restored to most Ameren Illinois and all Corn Belt Energy customer around 2 p.m. after a 30-minute, widespread outage that affected many customers in the Bloomington-Normal area Thursday afternoon.

The Ameren outage map reported more than 1,500 customers were  affected shortly before 2 p.m. About 8,600 had been without power when it initially happened.

Corn Belt Energy reported that about 2,669 its co-op members were impacted by the outage.

At about 2:40 p.m. less than 100 customers in Bloomington-Normal remained without power.

The outage affected Bloomington-Normal, El Paso and other neighboring communities. 

An Ameren spokeswoman said the outage in those areas was caused by two fuses that were blown in Bloomington.

She did not have locations of where the fuses were blown, but two fuses on a three-prong electrical line were blown around the time of the outage at the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District's west waste water treatment plant, located on West Oakland Avenue.

It appears a bird caused the two fuses to blow, said BNWRD Executive Director Randall Stein. Ameren technicians were at the site working on repairs to the equipment. 

Among customers affected were the McLean County Law and Justice Center, where a mail delivery person was stuck in an elevator. But the person was fine after power was restored and resumed his deliveries, said a representative of the State's Attorney Office.

The Bloomington Fire Department was called to five locations to rescue people trapped in elevators during the outage, although in a few cases, power was restored by the time the fire department arrived, said deputy chief of operations Eric West. No one was injured, he said.

The locations were Woodhill Tower, Phoenix Towers, the Downtowner, Bloomington Public Library and the McLean County Museum of History.

McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage said back-up generators were used to power the jail and sheriff’s department during the outage. Entrance to the Law and Justice Center was temporarily closed until screening equipment was up and running again, said Sandage. A handful of people waited outside the building for the doors to reopen, he said.

Power also was out at Bloomington City Hall, the Government Center and McLean County Health Department building, said Assistant City Manager Steve Rasmussen and health department spokeswoman Lisa Slater.

A few administrative buildings at Illinois State University lost power but no residence halls were affected by the outage, according to Rachel Hatch of ISU media services. Illinois Wesleyan University was not affected.

Neither Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal nor OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington were affected by the power outage, spokespersons said.

State Farm's buildings on the city's east side lalso were not affected.

Paul Swiech, Maria Nagle and Lenore Sobota contributed to this report.

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