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Power Plant Fire Causes Massive Blackout in Puerto Rico

A general view of a blackout during a power outage across several areas in the country, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2016.

Schools and businesses were forced to close in Puerto Rico Wednesday after a fire at a power plant left 1.5 million people in the dark.

Officials say two powerful transmission lines at the southern power plant, which serves most of the U.S. territory’s 3.5 million residents, failed and caused a blackout that swept across the island.

“This is a very serious event,'' Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla told reporters. “The system is not designed to withstand a failure of this magnitude.''

He said the fire destroyed a system that provides power to about 30 percent of the island and caused 15 additional fires across the island as generators began to malfunction. No one was hurt in those fires.

Puerto Rican authorities said they expect power to be restored to most areas by Thursday.