Utility Fire at Atlanta Airport Grounds About 1,400 Flights
A Sept. 17 fire in an underground Georgia Power utility tunnel knocked out power to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,400 flights and stranding thousands of passengers in the terminal and aboard planes on the tarmac of the world’s busiest airport. The fire was extinguished by airport crews. Georgia Power repair crews were unable to begin repairs for several hours, however, due to the presence of smoke and hazardous fumes. By 11:45 p.m., power had been restored for all essential airport operations. Although Georgia Power’s investigation of the incident is continuing, the utility said in a statement that the fire may have originated with a switchgear failure that spread to nearby redundant circuit cables and switching mechanisms. Damage to those components resulted in the outage and prevented power systems from switching to alternative sources. The power system automatically isolated the area with the malfunctioning equipment, preventing further damage. Hartsfield-Jackson airport averages 275,000 passengers and nearly 2,500 arrivals and departures each day.