By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — Authorities are blaming equipment failure for the outage that left a little under half of the city’s electricity customers without power yesterday afternoon.
The outage began at 11:53 a.m., when a transformer short-circuited at the substation in West Salem, according to interviews with city electrician John Giardi and Jake Navarro, a National Grid spokesman.
The transformer served multiple substations, and about 9,000 customers lost electricity between Salem and Lynn, most of them in Salem. The city has roughly 20,900 electricity customers.
The outage affected a large swath of the city, including Highland Avenue, Washington Street, Margin Street and Holyoke Square, and left the Kernwood Bridge stuck open for nearly two hours. The North Street Fire Station also lost power, as did the Collins Middle School and Witchcraft Heights elementary.
The last customers affected by the outage had their power back by 1:36 p.m.
It was unclear what caused the transformer to fail.
“We are still assessing that right now,” Navarro said.
Neil Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.