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Renewed call for underground power lines after electric outage darkens Dyker Heights

A pair of downed wires in Dyker Heights left more than 1,200 Con Edison customers without power Thursday night, damaged two cars and prompted a local pol to renew his call for underground wiring in southern Brooklyn.

The power company confirmed that, at around 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 28, overhead electrical wires fell at both 72nd Street and 81st Street at 10th Avenue.

According to Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing Dyker, the incident resulted in a massive explosion, accompanied by outages from 80th to 86th Streets and from Seventh to 12th Avenues. Lights also reportedly flickered inside homes as far from the lines as Bay Ridge and Sunset Park.

While power was restored within the hour, Con Ed is still not sure why its equipment failed. The morning after, Brannan doubled down on a call to the city he made last year to bury overhead lines in all New York City neighborhoods “once and for all.”

“The incident last night served as just another reminder that we need to take action to protect our power lines,” he said. “Moving the power lines underground is a commonsense move that will save us time and energy, and limit the potential for trees and powerful winds from knocking out power. Additionally, downed wires are a safety risk for residents and emergency responders.”

However, Con Ed Spokesperson Alfonso Quiroz argued that, since the incident didn’t seem to be weather-related, it’s one that could’ve just as easily occurred underground.

“Sometimes it’s weather [that causes an outage], but sometimes, equipment might fail,” he said, noting also that the power purveyor is still investigating the incident. “These situations aren’t limited to lines that are above ground. We see in Manhattan that there are oftentimes underground fires. Something can still go wrong when these systems are below ground. This certainly wouldn’t have prevented that.”

Still, Brannan maintained that it’s time to “get serious” about preparing southern Brooklyn neighborhoods like Dyker for major storms. “We need to start prioritizing solutions to solve problems like this. While most of New York City uses underground power lines, Dyker Heights and other parts of Brooklyn shouldn’t get left in the dark during bad weather,” he said. “It’s 2019 and it’s time that 100 percent of New York City has underground power lines.”

Dyker Heights is no stranger to power outages. Last July, some 6,000 residents lost power for the portion of a day due to what Con Ed referred to as an “equipment failure” assumed then to have occurred as a result of a mishap during maintenance work.

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