Lights back: Power outage left 1 million in the dark in California

Arizona utility worker triggers a chain reaction that reaches from Mexico to Orange County, bringing routine life to a halt.

Nicole Kinsler of Denver checks for hotels online outside San Diego International Airport after a power outage hit California.

The blackout brought routine life to a halt. Many offices closed, but workers endured gridlock getting home because traffic lights were out.

People were trapped in elevators and on rides at Sea World in San Diego and Legoland in Carlsbad. Hospital emergency rooms switched to backup generators, while outgoing flights from San Diego were canceled for several hours.

Customers jammed those stores that remained open, stocking up on ice and candles as utility company officials warned that power may not be restored until late Friday. Officials canceled classes Friday at most colleges and schools in San Diego and surrounding communities.

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Electricity has been restored to 18,000 customers in Orange County and San Diego County after a massive power outage that impacted up to 5 million people in the United States and Mexico, including a wide swath of South County.

While the widespread outage, which extended from the southern portion of Orange County into San Diego County, Arizona, Baja California and mainland Mexico, was expected to continue overnight, electricity had begun feeding back into the system by 12:45am.

PHOTO: Woman shops in darkened store after power outage in San Diego