Chicago transformer fire prompts traffic shutdown : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Chicago transformer fire prompts traffic shutdown, power outages September 14, 2000 Web posted at: 4:10 PM EDT (2010 GMT)

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Thick black smoke poured from an underground electricity vault fire Thursday in downtown Chicago, forcing police to halt traffic in the famous Loop. Power was shut off to three buildings in the immediate vicinity of the blaze. No injuries were reported.

The fire began around 1:20 p.m. underneath an office/apartment building at 222 N. Dearborn, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said. He did not know what caused it.

The spokesman said there were no injuries reported at this time, although the building and some neighboring structures were evacuated.

Chicago Fire Chief James Joyce said he ordered power cut off to three buildings, including the one over the site of the fire. He said there was some work being done in the pit by concrete workers at the time, who all escaped safely.

"At this time, we don't know what caused the fire," Joyce said. "The workers were in the hole. They heard some popping sounds and they came out. They don't know if they affected the electrical service or if the electrical service went sour for some other reason."

Police spokesman Robert Cargi said authorities were working "as fast as they could to meet the needs of rush hour traffic."

-- Martin Thompson (, September 14, 2000

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