Update at 2:21 p.m. – The lockdown at the White House is all clear. Officials said it had nothing to do with the blackout. It was due to an unattended package.
Update at 2:01 p.m. Eastern – Several media outlets are reporting that the White House is on lockdown now and several other buildings in downtown Washington, D.C. in the wake of a blackout that has left thousands of people without power. It’s unclear now whether the lockdown has anything to do with the power outages.
Officials said previously that they believe an explosion at a power plan in Maryland was the reason for the blackout and that they did not think the outage had anything to do with terrorism.
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A spokesperson for the White House reportedly told the media that the White House is now running on backup generators.
A blackout has struck parts of Washington, D.C., knocking out power at the State Dept., the White House, the Dept. of Justice, the Smithsonian, and several train stations. The blackout interrupted a briefing at the State Dept., but officials carried on in darkness, according to Twitter posts.
The State Department press briefing continues in darkness. Power outage pic.twitter.com/Ph9Zytt7Hp
— Gayane Chichakyan (@Gayane_RT) April 7, 2015
The cause of the blackout has not been officially reported, but Aaron Davis of The Washington Post reports that officials with Homeland Security believe an explosion at a power plant in Maryland is to blame, reports RT.
Pepco, the energy company that supplies power to the part of Washington, D.C. that has been hit by the power outage, said it is investigating the cause of the blackout. Officials do not believe it to be the result of terrorism or criminal activity, according to CNBC.
Details on the blackout
Pepco has published this outage map on its website:
As you can see, the blackout doesn’t appear to be very widespread, at least in terms of the number of customers that are out of power. Most of the outages are in downtown Washington, D.C., while there are just a handful of outages in the surrounding area. Pepco describes each of the outage locations as having “multiple outages,” although as of this writing, it reports that only about 2,500 people are without power. Some of the other places that are affected by the power outage include: the University of Maryland, 13 Metrorail stations, which are running on backup power, and several other government buildings.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter is filled with jokes about the government forgetting to pay the electric bill.
Government forgot to pay pepco, smh.
— Kevin H. (@KillaKev_) April 7, 2015
If you’re the CEO of #Pepco, you do NOT want THAT phone call: “Hey, this is Pres. Obama, and the #WhiteHouse has no electricity.”
— ml8_ml8 (@ml8_ml8) April 7, 2015
The power company said it could have the outages fixed between 11 p.m. tonight and noon on Wednesday.