BAYCHESTER — Thousands of Co-op City residents lost power and several others became trapped in elevators early Thursday after an overnight outage left the massive complex in the dark for several hours, officials said.
The lights went out at the development shortly after midnight, officials said, after a surge at the power plant that feeds its 35 buildings knocked out the electricity.
"We had an incident of a power surge...that caused us to lose power throughout the entire development," said Vernon Cooper, the general manager of RiverBay Corporation, the managing unit of Co-op City. "The cause of that power surge is still to be determined."
The outage triggered a small explosion, witnesses said, that sent a plume of smoke billowing out from the power plant.
"It was a huge bang," said Darren Whitfield, a 44-year-old resident who lives on the 21st floor of a Baychester Avenue building at the complex. "I look out my windows and I can see the smoke flying up from the plant."
Seven residents were treated for minor injuries, four of whom were taken to nearby hospitals, including those who rely on medical equipment that requires electricity, said Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the city's Office of Emergency Management.
There were 27 residents stuck in elevators, too, Miller said, and were later helped to safety by firefighters.
Power was restored by 4:30 a.m. after Con Ed helped bring electricity back to residents of Co-op City, which generates its own power, according to OEM.
“We’re there in support capacity until they repair the problems on their side,” said Con Ed spokeswoman D. Joy Faber. “They’ll be back on their own power supply.”
Cooper said the timing of the blackout prevented further chaos.
"Thank God...it happened at night when most people [were] in bed," he said.
David Stone, the chief engineer at RiverBay, said one of the generators at the plant has been restored and another is expected to be up and running by the afternoon.
"It's a limited number of components that may have failed," Stone said. "We still have to investigate."