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Outage hits Chelsea, E. Boston

2 Logan terminals also blacked out briefly by surge

By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 12/10/2000

A momentary electrical surge sparked a fire in a power relay device in a manhole on Eastern Avenue in Chelsea yesterday morning, causing a 90-minute power outage in most of Chelsea and parts of East Boston, fire and utility officials said.

The blackout also caused an eight-minute power outage at Terminals B and E at Logan Airport, Massport officials said. There were no reports of flight delays as a result. An electrical substation near the blaze was also unaffected, utility officials said.

Despite the widespread loss of power resulting from the surge, the relay unit ''worked the way it was supposed to,'' said Walter Salvi, a spokesman for the utility, NSTAR. ''Like a fuse in your home will blow to protect the entire house, a relay operates for a substation the same way. It will shut down to protect the substation.''

The fire, which began around 8:30 a.m. near 295 Eastern Ave., occurred about 500 yards down the street from a water main break that flooded the area with thousands of gallons at about 3 a.m. yesterday, officials said.

The two incidents were apparently unrelated, however, Chelsea fire officials said.

''The water never got closer than about 200 yards from the manhole, so we don't think the two things had anything to do with each other,'' said a tired Joe Von Handorf, deputy chief of the Chelsea Fire Department, who tended to both situations. ''We've had several problems with electricity in that area in the past.''

-- Doris (, December 10, 2000

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