HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Electric Company expected to have power restored to the Ala Moana Center area sometime after midnight Monday night. And that couldn't come soon enough for the mall -- and for last-minute holiday shoppers frustrated at finding stores closed because there was no electricity.
The Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Center was dark again Monday after three power outages in two days. Ala Moana management said 70 stores were shut down because of the blackout.
"Major stores like Macy's, Nordstrom," said shopper Lani Guillermo. "A lot of it on the Diamond Head side of the mall."
HECO said the chain of problems apparently began Sunday, when heavy rains may have caused a fire at the Makaloa Street substation. The fire knocked out electricity to portions of the shopping center and surrounding businesses.
A second outage occurred at 7:30 a.m. Monday, when a backup circuit shorted out. Power was restored again at around 1 p.m., but went out a third time at 2:30 p.m.
Backup generators kicked in at the center, but fumes from one of the generators caused problems.
"Exhaust from a generator had started to infiltrate certain areas in the mall, and people were concerned by the odor," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesperson Capt. Terry Seelig. Seelig also said two employees were examined after they were affected by the fumes, but they appeared to be okay.
The fire department had the balancing act of keeping the fumes in one part of the center while keeping the rest of the mall open for shoppers.
"A lot of people enjoy shopping at Ala Moana, and with good reason," Seelig said. "And we know our role was to help them get past this situation without adversely impacting any more than needed to be."
Despite the fact that part of the mall was closed, 220 stores were still open. And shoppers were still out in force.
"It's crazy," Guillermo said. "There's still a lot of people trying to shop and see what they can actually squeeze in with their Christmas shopping.
"It's just crazy and frustrating because the stores that you really want open are not the ones that are open," she added.
HECO crews were still working at the Makaloa station Monday evening. Utility spokesperson Darren Pai said repairs need to be made to the underground cables that provide power to Ala Moana Center and the surrounding area, which he called a time-consuming and labor intensive process.
"We have extra crews on duty and are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power to all customers affected by this outage," Pai said.