Equipment failure at substation serving Carlton Hotel led to power outage in central Singapore, fire in hotel switch room

Following the power outage that affected several areas in central Singapore such as Bugis, City Hall, Marina and Somerset on Thursday (14 Feb), it was discovered that the disruption was caused due to equipment failure at the substation serving Carlton Hotel at Bras Basah Road.

Government-owned electricity and gas company Singapore Power (SP Group) revealed in a Facebook update at 7.56 p.m. on the same day that the equipment failure had “caused an electricity flashover, resulting in a fire which was put out by SCDF”.

The incident was confirmed by SCDF at 3:12 p.m. on Thursday:

Public relations executive Jonathan Lim, 32, told The Straits Times that he had noticed a power supply disruption occurring at 1.15pm at the hotel, situated next to Odeon Towers where he was, as the lights went out.

Upon exiting Odeon Towers, he reported seeing “smoke coming out from a door at the back of Carlton Hotel”, which he said was “blown open” and “appeared to lead to a room containing power supply equipment”.

“I was a bit shocked and alarmed. We saw some metal on the floor near the area,” he told ST, adding that he had also detected “a strong smell of burning plastic”.

ST reported that Mr Lim heard a second explosion as he was waiting outside the building later on.

SP Group added that the equipment failure had “also caused power tripping affecting supply to parts of Bugis, City Hall, Marina and Somerset, and the 7 MRT stations”.

The seven MRT stations were mentioned by SP Group earlier at 3.47 p.m., namely Potong Pasir, Boon Keng, Dhoby Ghaut, Clarke Quay, Chinatown, Outram Park, and Harbourfront – all along the North-east Line.

“This incident has occurred despite the equipment being inspected on 1 February 2019,” noted SP Group.

However, SP Group assured that the power supply “was fully restored within 12 minutes to all areas except Carlton Hotel”.

“Our officers are working to restore supply to the hotel, via a bypass circuit.

“We estimate this will be completed by 7pm today,” added SP Group.

Earlier at 3.47 p.m., SP Group reported that power supply to “parts of Bugis, City Hall, Marina and Somerset was disrupted at 1.09pm today”.

“Supply was progressively restored from 1.19pm and fully restored by 1.21pm to all areas except Carlton Hotel,” the update read.

In both of its statements, SP Group had issued an apology “for the inconvenience caused and thank the public for their patience and understanding.”

SP Group also highlighted in its latest statement that it “will conduct a thorough investigation” on Thursday’s power outage, “taken together with the incident at the Bright Hill substation on 26 January”, the latter of which lasted for one hour and 30 minutes and had affected approximately 27,000 residents in areas such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, and Toa Payoh.

Previously, a large-scale power failure involving a faulty voltage transformer took place in September last year, affecting over 146,000 residents in several areas in Singapore from Boon Lay to Aljunied, according to ST.