Stevens Creek Boulevard fire causes power outage at De Anza College


Jarra Gojolo

Firefighters and police surround the L-quad after the fire alarm goes off on Tuesday, March 28.

Hundreds of De Anza College students found their finals suddenly disrupted by a blaring smoke alarm Monday, March 27, forcing the evacuation of the L-quad area and the library — the result of a transformer fire originating off-campus on Stevens Creek Boulevard. At about 1:45 p.m., most of the campus experienced a complete power outage as a result of a consequential power surge.

While there was no actual fire on campus, the transformer malfunction caused a burned-out motor in the cooling system of the L-2 building to smoke, initiating a police lockdown of the entire complex while the Santa Clara County fire department and Foothill-De Anza district plant services operation resolved the issue.

 The evacuation and outage affected students in a wide range of ways, with some students saying they took their final exams in the dark; a crowd of roughly 40 students took their finals outdoors on the steps of the Advanced Technology center. Facebook comments from students suggested that some professors even cancelled or postponed exams until further notice.

“I came to class, and right before my professor passed out the final, the fire alarm went off. … Our whole class had to take the final outside,” Elsa Kebede, 20, journalism major, said.

Jarra Gojolo
Students take their finals outside of the ATC building on Monday, March 27 after the blackout.

Simultaneously, while administration did announce that power had been restored, both faculty and students were largely kept in the dark, leading many to believe that a fire was on campus.

“I think a panel [in the L-area] caught fire or something,” said Carolyn Wilkins-Greene, Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities.

When asked about the situation, security forces refused to comment, claiming they could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but Ronald Levine, chief of the Foothill-De Anza police department confirmed that there was no investigation.

It’s unknown how many final exams were interrupted by the evacuation and outage, but Marisa Spatafore, director of communications and associate-vice president of De Anza College, said because of the nature of electricity grids, most of the college experienced blackouts.

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Taken from student Umika Kumar’s snapchat story.


The incident, which was resolved within a short period, may have more long-term implications for the state of some of the decades-old campus infrastructure. Steve Kitchen, executive director of Foothill-De Anza facilities and operations, said “[district staff] is currently evaluating the status of campus infrastructure, primarily motors and pumps which can be damaged by an outage.”

Police Chief Levine said campus police arrived on the scene at approximately 1:56 and removed their safety perimeter at 3:11, coinciding with the college’s text message indicating that power had been restored.

No previous text had been sent about the outage. 

Jarra Gojolo
Intrigued students ask questions about the blackout on Monday, March 27.