ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – More than 12 hours after a fire caused a power outage Monday morning, the Albuquerque Sunport was still closed Monday night. Outbound flights have been on hold all day. Passengers say that the week of Christmas could not be a worse time for the Sunport to shut down.
It was an unusual scene at the airport in the middle of holiday travel. “I thought to myself that I couldn’t believe this many people are afraid of traveling,” Albuquerque resident Marla Painter said. “There is nobody here.”
People like Painter who arrived at the airport Monday were disappointed to find out that they couldn’t fly out. “I don’t understand why this happened,” Painter said. “During the holiday season? It is not acceptable.”
Painter said she was ready to fly to San Diego to spend the holidays with family only to learn she had to rebook her flight for Tuesday morning. “It is very inconvenient,” Painter said. “It takes a whole day off of me getting prepared for the holiday with my kids in San Diego.”
This comes after a fire at a PNM transformer near the Sunport caused a power outage Monday morning. Albuquerque Fire Rescue, assisted by Kirtland Fire, responded shortly after 8 a.m.
When crews arrived they reported heavy black smoke and flames coming from the transformer and called for additional resources to assist in mitigating the fire. AFR says a total of 20 fire apparatus were dispatched to help including 2 units from Kirtland Fire. AFR also says no injuries were reported to firefighters or civilians and the cause of the fire is under investigation. “The fire was able to get knocked down relatively quickly,” Lt. Tom Ruiz with AFR said.
While the fire is out, the airport remained empty and dark Monday evening as PNM crews worked to get the Sunport back online. At 10:41 p.m. PNM and the Sunport tweeted that power had been restored and outbound operations will resume Tuesday morning.
The Sunport urges passengers to check with their airlines for up-to-date flight information and to arrive at least two hours ahead of their scheduled departure time.
Painter said she is concerned the issues Monday will create fuller flights Tuesday. “My kids are already paranoid about me traveling, but I have my face shield and my N95 mask,” Painter said.
Painter added that she thinks Monday’s outage adds onto what is already a stressful holiday season. “I just hope that they are ready to roll at 7 o’clock in the morning or else my Christmas is ruined,” Painter said.
The Sunport said this affected 32 flights Monday. A map of current power outages can be viewed online at PNM.com.