Wire shortage sparked massive power failure at Woodside’s Big Six apartments (UPDATED)

A 3-D map of the Big Six apartment complex in Woodside.
Photo via Google Maps

A wire malfunction is believed to be the cause of a massive power failure that threw thousands of residents living at the Big Six apartment complex in Woodside into darkness on March 19.

The failure occurred at about 5:15 p.m. on March 19 at the Mitchell-Lama development of high-rise apartment towers located off the corner of Queens Boulevard and 61st Street. More than 1,000 families call the Big Six complex home.

According to resident Sam Goldman, the outage knocked out electricity, heating and water services to the building; the entire Big Six complex is not part of the Con Edison grid, and generates its own power. He had to walk up six flights of stairs, illuminated with some emergency lighting, in order to reach his apartment.

Community Board 2 Chairperson Denise Keehan Smith, who also lives at the complex, told QNS that the Office of Emergency Management believes a wire failed in one of the generators, and that triggered a system failure that lasted into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Nonetheless, a full investigation is ongoing.

Members of the 108th Precinct were dispatched to the premises, and some temporary lighting was set up near the Big Six’s power station as crews work to restore utilities.

According to WABC-TV, the Fire Department rescued three people from stalled elevators. The MTA also dispatched a bus to serve as a warming station for residents to heat up on a cold, late winter night. FDNY members also checked on residents known to have long-term medical conditions to ensure that they were safe, Keehan Smith added.

State Senator Michael Gianaris said on Tuesday that he was working with Big Six leaders as well as the city’s Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Department to offer assistance.

“This complex generates its own power supply and is not connected to a major utility. I will work with residents to help identify the cause of this outage and address issues with their generator system going forward,” he stated.

Power was reportedly restored to most of the complex by 2 a.m. Wednesday.

This story was updated on March 20 at 1 p.m.

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