An equipment failure at an electrical receiving station knocked out power to a one-square-mile area around Northridge Fashion Center at dusk Friday, trapping a woman in an elevator and causing droves of disappointed shoppers to head home early.
The outage, which was first reported at 5:30 p.m., primarily affected large business customers located in an area bounded by Tampa and Winnetka avenues, and Plummer and Parthenia streets, said MaryAnne Pierson, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Power was back on for most customers by 7:30 p.m., she added.
By that time, many businesses in the area had either closed up for the night or tapped backup generators.
At Northridge Fashion Center, power returned by 7 p.m. and only a few shops remained closed for security reasons.
Earlier, Maria Victoria Coche was trapped in a elevator for nearly an hour after leaving the men's sportswear department at Macy's.
"She was my customer--I just opened her express account," said 17-year-old clerk Arnold Barreda, who spoke with Coche from outside the closed elevator door.
At the mall multiplex, more than 300 people asked for refunds after sitting in the dark for about a half hour. Meanwhile, many shoppers just made their way out of the mall as stores closed up and pulled down their security gates.
"It was pitch black in here when it first happened," said Frank Martinez, 35, a Macy's shoe salesman. "We couldn't even see our hands until the emergency lights came on."
At 6:20 p.m., the lights at Macy's came back on and a loud cheer erupted from employees and the remaining customers.
The problem was caused by a circuit-breaker failure at a receiving station in Northridge, Pierson said.
Times staff writer Jean Guccione contributed to this story.