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FBI involved with airport blackout probe; no sign of terror

  • Alexis Canete rests on his luggage as he waits in the Delta ticket line to get back home to Cuba from his visit to Tennessee on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the world's busiest airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • Destiny Easley and Bronx from Jacksonville, Alabama on her way to Buckeye, Arizona had to miss her flight because of the long lines at the Delta ticket counter on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • Kenneth Reyes, 2, watches phone cartoons as his parents, Lucas and Areli and sister, Yosselyn-11 sleep on the second floor of the atrium overnight into Monday morning, Dec. 18, 2017, at the airport. The family was traveling from Atlanta back home to New York City and had to settle for water and potato chips until power was restored. The ticket counters were swamped with travelers on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • The ticket counters are swamped with travelers in the North terminal on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • Travelers sleep in the atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the world's busiest airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • Zanor McWilliams looks over luggage Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. McWilliams said she was stuck on the tarmac for eight hours on Sunday, and returned Monday to try to collect her luggage. Power was restored at the airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Bob Andres

  • With the SkyTrain out of service, travelers are directed to a long line for shuttle buses Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Power was restored at the airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Bob Andres



Associated Press
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The FBI is part of the probe into what caused a fire that knocked out power to the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, but an agency spokesman said Tuesday there was no sign of anything connected to terrorism.

“There’s no indication at this point of anything nefarious,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also been involved in the investigation, Georgia Power spokesman Craig Bell said.

“We’re bringing everything we have to bear to the situation to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Bell said Tuesday.

No conclusions have been drawn as to the cause of the fire, which took out the airport’s power supply and also its backup electricity for about 11 hours Sunday. The blackout stranded thousands of passengers on grounded jets and in darkened concourses and led to the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights just ahead of the frenzied holiday travel period.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the main hub for Delta Air Lines, is a crucial cog in the nation’s air travel system. Delays there typically ripple across the nation because so many U.S. and international flights are routed through the Atlanta hub.

Because of the magnitude of Sunday’s outage, “we want to be able to rule out any possible scenario that wasn’t equipment malfunction,” Bell said.

“We really don’t expect any answers like that to come forth for a few days,” he said.

The power company is working with the airport to explore how to prevent the situation from happening again in the future.

Among ideas being discussed: Encasing in concrete the area that holds key electric equipment, or moving parts of the system to other areas. The blaze took out the main power and the backup system because the fire burned through parts of both in the same underground utility tunnel, authorities have said.