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Massive outage: 375,000 across SEQ without power

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A massive power outage affecting hundreds of thousands of customers across south-east Queensland plunged the region into chaos, with firefighters still battling the generator fire which caused the blackout and traffic lights not working at key intersections just as the road network was gearing up for the afternoon peak.

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The outage, apparently caused by multiple explosions and a generator fire at the Callide power station in central Queensland, created gridlock on some parts of the road network and cut electricity to entire suburbs before authorities were able to restore power to most of the grid.

Energex’s website reported that more than 375,000 households and business were without power at 2.15pm, but about 250,000 had been reconnected at 3.15pm. By 3.30pm, less than 10,000 customers were still without power.

Customers from Caboolture to the Gold Coast reported no power at the peak of the outage

Energex later said it was working with agencies and station operators to “restore supply to our network as soon as power is available”.

Police scrambled to direct traffic at intersections where lights had failed.

Talkback callers flooded radio stations reporting electricity supply had suddenly dropped out.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said several crews were “on scene” at Callide C power station.

“An evacuation of the power station has been completed and a 550 metre exclusion zone has been set up while firefighting operations take place,” QFES said.

“This incident is expected to be a prolonged event.”

Callide operator CS Energy tweeted that it had “immediately acted” following the incident.

“At approximately 1.45pm today, a fire occurred in one of the turbine halls at the power station,” the company said.

The Australian Energy Market Operator reported a “non-credible contingency event” at 2.10pm, saying that the Callide C power station generating units had tripped, cutting about 2000 Megawatts of power to the grid.

“As a result, the three units that were generating at the time went offline. We immediately evacuated the power station and called emergency services to attend site. At this stage, there are no reported injuries.”

AEMO said it did not instruct load shedding and had not been advised not been advised of any disconnection of bulk electrical load.

It later reported a “significant power system event” had occurred, with multiple transmission lines tripped.

A statement from Energex, Ergon and transmission utility Powerlink said crews were immediately on standby to restore power supply as soon as safe to do so.  “Working with Powerlink we have mobilised quickly to restore power in affected areas,” the statement said.

Traffic authorities in metropolitan Brisbane tweeted a warning to drivers: “Traffic signals are not operating at numerous intersections throughout Brisbane and SE Queensland, Energex are working to restore power.”

Gold Coast trams were also hit, with services suspended from Broadbeach South to Cavill Avenue in Surfers Paradise.

The outage came a day after a power surge knocked out check-in, baggage and security systems at Brisbane Airport, causing significant delays to flights and long queues at airline counters.

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