SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Thousands of customers remained without power Sunday following a massive blackout that disrupted traffic, shut down transit stations and, at its height, left a third of the city without electricity on one of the busiest days of the holiday season.

The power outage started just before 6 p.m. Saturday when a fire erupted at a major Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation that feeds smaller neighborhood substations.

“There’s no indication that it was vandalism or sabotage. As far as the exact cause, we just don’t know yet,” utility spokesman Jonathan Franks said.

At the height of the blackout about 120,000 customers lost power, including parts of Mission, North Beach, Chinatown and downtown San Francisco.

About 11,000 customers, most of them downtown, remained without power by late Sunday afternoon. Power was expected to be restored throughout the city by the evening.

, Franks said.

“It has taken a little bit longer,” Franks said. “We’ve had to do some extensive cleaning, a little bit more than we thought.”

Jeffrey’s Toys remained closed Sunday, disappointing the store’s manager and young passers-by.

“Today could have been a $10,000 day,” said manager Fatima Kioskoi. “Little children have been pressing their noses up to the glass wanting to buy toys. It’s been very hard.”

At the city’s ornate War Memorial Opera House, the San Francisco Ballet canceled a matinee performance of the Nutcracker.

“All this afternoon, there were little kids weeping on the steps,” said ballet General Manager Lesley Koenig. A later performance did go on after PG&E provided two generators.

Engineers had restored power late Saturday to about half of the affected customers, but those customers were plunged back into darkness when workers discovered the fire had not been fully contained and the substation had to be shut down again.

Earlier Sunday, utility officials had thought power would be fully restored by dawn.

AP-ES-12-21-03 2202EST



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