The office of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien recently said that a fire at a power plant near Niagara Falls, N.Y., appeared to be the cause of the massive power blackout that hit large areas of the Northeast on August 14. Before this announcement there were conflicting reports on the cause. Security agents on both sides of the United States/Canada border said that lighting had hit a power plant in New York and started a cascading blackout over an area of 3,600 sq mi in the U.S. Northeast and Ontario. However, it now appears that the outage was caused by a fire within the power plant.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman also said the main Ontario power utility, Hydro One, was doing all it could to decouple itself from the U.S. power grid, to which it’s interconnected.