ATLANTA -- A power outage at the world's busiest airport Sunday, December 17th left thousands of passengers stranded in dark terminals and in planes sitting on the tarmac, as a ground stop for Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International disrupted air travel across the United States -- one of them a woman from Cedarburg, looking to catch a flight back to Milwaukee.
The outage, which affected all airport operations, started with a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. The fire's intensity damaged two substations serving the airport, including the airport's "redundancy system" that should have provided backup power, and delayed efforts to contain it, Reed said. Full power was expected to be restored by midnight.
"We certainly understand that the outages have caused frustration and anger and were doing everything we can to get folks back home right away," he said, adding that the fire's cause is still unknown.
Atlanta is the heart of the US air transport system, and the disruption led to flight delays and cancellations across the country.
Brittny Dettro said she was trying to catch a connecting flight to the Milwaukee area after attending a remembrance for one of her family members in Florida. She said she was at her gate when the lights went off.
"I was having some panic, panic moments -- some anxiety for sure. Out on the tarmac, we did see emergency vehicles go by, so that was something in my head that I definitely was worried about," Dettro said.
The below photos were shared with FOX6 by Dettro:
As time went by, she said travelers started getting restless in the dark, as airline officials handed out bottled water and snacks. Dettro said the airport was evacuated a few hours later, but she left before that -- making arrangements to stay with family members.
"I'm safe and I'm happy. I'm happy to be out of that situation, because it was very scary. It was a very scary situation,"
Dettro said she's hoping to catch a flight to Milwaukee on Monday.