A fire in a pasture on the outskirts of Buenos Aires has left millions of Argentines without electricity this Wednesday.
The fire, whose origin has not yet been clarified, reached a high voltage line in General Rodríguez, west of the capital, and triggered the disconnection of several power plants from the national system due to protection protocols.
In addition to a large part of the city of Buenos Aires and its urban periphery, the blackout affected the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba, Mendoza, San Juan and some areas in the northwest of the country.
Almost 40% of the country was without electricity this afternoon: some 20 million people.
The alerts were triggered when the Atucha I nuclear plant, one of the largest power plants in the country, suddenly stopped working around four in the afternoon.
The Ministry of Energy later reported that it was responding to a security protocol: "In the event of an imbalance, the system responds immediately, causing the disconnection of generation for its own protection," the authorities explained in a statement.
Atucha I, a power plant inaugurated in 1974 almost 100 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires, was the first to receive signs of the fire that had hit three high-voltage lines and suspended its activity.
The interconnection system of the center and north of the country replicated the protocol.
View of the Atucha I nuclear plant in Zarate, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, on March 1. MATIAS BAGLIETTO (REUTERS)
According to information registered by Cammesa, the company that manages electricity in the country, the flow of power fell from almost 26,000 megawatts to 14,000 in less than half an hour.
The service was restored little by little, in the midst of a heat stroke that reached peaks of up to 36 degrees in cities such as Buenos Aires.
The blackout affected electrified public transportation, such as the subway, and left much of the capital without running water.
"37% of the demand for energy was left without service," said Santiago Yanotti, Undersecretary of Electric Power, in a television interview.
The official clarified that the demand was high due to the heat wave that is going through a large part of the country.
Argentina has not seen such a large blackout since the fall of 2019, when a short circuit in the province of Entre Ríos, bordering Uruguay, left the entire country without power and ended up spreading beyond the border.
Almost 50 million people were left without electricity that Sunday, June 16, when the country celebrated Father's Day and some provinces had to delay their local elections.
Transener, the company in charge of the distribution of energy in the country, was fined by the Government because the catastrophe of the blackout of more than 14 hours was caused by errors in the automatic disconnection system.
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