Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Power outage caused by faulty transformer


An underground transformer exploded at Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara streets yesterday morning, knocking out power to a 12-block section of the city.
Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 9:20 a.m. and found debris scattered around a manhole cover and smoke streaming from a nearby vent, Fire Capt. Bill Taft said.

“It built up some pressure down in the vault and it blew the manhole cover up twice,” he said. “…There was really no fire.”
Southern California Edison officials said 393 customers were initially affected by the outage, although they had reduced that figure to just 22 customers in the block bordered by Canon Perdido, Garden, De la Guerra and Santa Barbara streets by yesterday evening.
“It’s taking a long time to fix,” Edison spokeswoman Jane Brown said.
She said workers are expected to have the transformer repaired by 10 a.m. today.
Although officials had yet to determine an official cause, many speculated that water intrusion resulted in the transformer failure.
“Water does get in there,” Capt. Taft said. “In fact, there was water down in the vault when they opened it up.”
Edison workers on the scene yesterday afternoon were still waiting on a pump truck to remove water potentially contaminated by oil. Colin Kennedy, a contractor working alongside Edison said the explosion might have several different causes.
“Sometimes water migrates in there, sometimes it’s just old age,” he said.
Several businesses in the area were adversely affected by the outage. Sojourner Café and Panino closed their doors and posted signs informing customers of the power outage.
“Sorry! No power. Street is blocked. I’m outta here,” read a sign on the door of Thrasher Books. Our Daily Bread, a bakery and restaurant on Santa Barbara Street, remained open, offering a limited selection from its menu.

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