Power outage at Tuscola mall blamed on animal

TUSCOLA – An animal had an unfortunate meeting with an electrical substation Saturday morning, causing a widespread power outage at the Tanger Outlet center in Tuscola.

The initial problems were reported about 10:30 a.m., and some stores were without full power until 3:15 p.m., authorities said.

Employees at the mall's Rocky Mountain Chocolate reported an electrical smell about 10:35 a.m, Tuscola Fire Chief Steve Hettinger said.

Firefighters couldn't find the source of the problem but discovered that the candy store had only partial power, he said.

They cut power to the store, then found that a majority of the mall's retail stores had a partial or complete power outage, as did the Holiday Inn Express and other businesses nearby.

Emergency utility crews arrived, and firefighters began going door to door to investigate other reports of smoke or electrical smells, he said.

Some stores, including the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, had to close for several hours, said Manager Rachel Osborne. But Hettinger said many stores were open when he went back to check on the situation at 1:30 p.m.

"The parking lot was full, and there were still a lot of people out there," he said. "I saw people going in and out of stores."

An Ameren spokesman said half the stores had power back by 12:30 p.m., and the remainder were back by 3:15 p.m. Power went out when an animal got into an electrical substation, he said.

"Everything's fine now," Osborne said Saturday evening.

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