(Miami) A fire at a power plant on the US island of Puerto Rico left thousands of residents in the dark Thursday night, shortly after the electricity provider announced it had suffered a cyber attack, without any connection to it.
Supplier Luma Energy has announced “a transformer fire has occurred in the Monacillo substation,” an area of the capital, San Juan. Two hours ago, the company made it clear that it was the target of a denial of service attack that made it “difficult” for customers to access their online accounts.
Loma says this cyber attack, a denial of service attack designed to shut down a website by loading it with excessive traffic, accounts for up to “2 million visits per second.”
This comes weeks after Colonial Pipeline, the operator of a huge US pipeline, and global meat giant GPS fell victim to ransomware attacks, whose authors exploit vulnerabilities to block computer systems and then demand a ransom to unlock them.
The Colonial Pipeline, the main source of gasoline for much of the eastern United States, was temporarily closed, causing many major cities to run out of stock.
Luma Thursday night did not establish a link between the cyber attack and the fire, nor did it provide estimates for the number of homes affected by the cuts.
The fire “has prompted the protection systems to interrupt the ‘current’ to avoid further damage,” Luma explains on his Facebook account.
“The fire caused massive power outages across the island,” said the company, which claims it is “working on restoring service.”
Puerto Rican representative in the US Congress, Jennifer Gonzalez, said on Twitter that the blackout affected more than 500,000 people.
The island’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, who mentioned an “explosion”, said “take all necessary measures to protect essential services, such as the electrical service.”
He said on Twitter that authorities were “investigating the blast” and officials would have to “respond to Puerto Ricans”.
Luma Energy, a company created to manage Puerto Rico’s power grid, has only been in business since 1he is June.
Pictures on social media showed large plumes of black smoke rising above the power station, along with flames and sparks.
“(Power) recovery will start in two hours and it will last all night,” the provider wrote on Facebook at 7.40pm local time (23.40 GMT).