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Power Outage Hits Southwest

September 20, 1995

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ A giant power outage shut down a swath of West Texas and southern New Mexico on Tuesday, closing businesses and snarling traffic.

Most of El Paso Electric Co.’s 263,000 customers from Van Horn, 120 miles east of El Paso, to Hatch, N.M., lost power or experienced flickering lights in the morning, spokesman Henry Quintana said. Most of the region had power restored by evening.

Officials said they did not immediately know what caused the trouble.

The utility turned to generators to ensure that some of their top priority customers, including hospitals, received electricity.

At county-run Thomason General Hospital, the power was out for a few minutes and patients in critical care units had to be ventilated by hand when their ventilators went out, said spokeswoman Anna Aleman.

``Those patients were immediately attended by respiratory therapists and nurses,″ she said, noting the patients experienced no problems.

Emergency generators were also needed for a few minutes during the morning at El Paso’s international airport before full power was restored.

But beyond some flickers later on in the day there were no other noticeable difficulties, said Larry Priest, assistant director of aviation.

Flickering lights were reported as far north as Albuquerque, which is not an El Paso Electric customer.

Public Service Company of New Mexico experienced low voltage because of problems in three major tranmission lines, said spokesman Rick Brinneman.

The three lines were back up by the end of the day. The cause of the problem wasn’t immediately known.

``We came close to having to go to rolling blackouts or a widespread blackout because of the low voltage,″ Brinneman said.

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