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Rotary building hit by power failure

Some workers in the 18-story Rotary International building downtown may have gotten an unexpected early start to their holiday weekend after an underground electric transformer reportedly blew out during the noon hour today, cutting off power to the building.

Some workers in the 18-story Rotary International building downtown may have gotten an unexpected early start to their holiday weekend after an underground electric transformer reportedly blew out during the noon hour today, cutting off power to the building.

Several hundred workers milled around on the sidewalk across the street from the tower waiting for word on when the power might be restored.

Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, which has its offices in the building, said that by 2 p.m. workers had been told they'd be allowed back into the building in small groups to retrieve their personal belongings.

He said officials told him they didn't know how soon power could be restored and that employees should not expect to be able to go back to work today.

Mr. Perman said a second transformer, on the building's 18th floor, also blew out and that some smoke was seen in the building from that.

Commonwealth Edison and Evanston Fire Department crews are on the scene.

A Com Ed spokesman, Jeff Burdick, said the problem was reported at 12:49 p.m. He described the problem as originating with a cable fault in an upper floor of the building.

The spokesman said the power failure affected the lower level and ground floor of the building as well as floors 3, 7, 12, 15 and 18 He said crews were working to reroute power cables to the building and that by 2:45 p.m. power had been restored to all but the top floor.

Evanston fire officials could not immediately be reached for comment. There were no reports of any injuries from the incident.

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