Seattle joins the flying manhole cover club : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Power cut affects some 1,700 after apparent vault fire

July 25, 2001, 01:00 PM SEATTLE – About 1,700 sites in a downtown area lost power and some people were stuck in elevators after some explosions and an apparent underground electrical vault fire.

REPORTED BY Arturo Santiago Click Image to Enlarge. The exploding manhole Just after noon, three loud explosions were heard on Harrison Street near Dexter Avenue, blowing a manhole cover off and spewing smoke, dust and debris. No one was hurt.

Battalion chief William Hepburn of the Seattle Fire Department said the smoke had dissipated quickly and that whatever had occurred appeared to be over.

“Whatever happened has happened and hopefully it should not get any worse,” he said.

He said similar incidents occur a few times a year throughout the city and that vault fires were not very unusual.

Seattle City Light workers were investigating the cause and power was expected to be restored quickly.

The areas affected were from Highland Drive to north Harrison to south I-5 to east Dexter. Harrison Street at Dexter Avenue was blocked off.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 25, 2001


Seattle has second vault fire in two days July 26, 2001, 05:00 PM SEATTLE – A fire in an underground electrical vault cut power in part of downtown Seattle Thursday morning, the second such incident within 24 hours. City Light spokesman Larry Vogel said the fire at 6:30 a.m. at Third and University knocked out four of six feeders in the area.

Businesses in the Museum Plaza Building at Second and Union streets had to close for the day after it lost power around 7 a.m., although there were emergency generators to provide some lighting. It was the only building to lose power from the vault fire.

An explosion yesterday near Dexter Avenue knocked off a manhole cover and caused a brief outage for 1,700 customers.

Vogel says both fires were caused by equipment failure where power cables are spliced.

On Thursday, electrical wires got so hot that insulation melted off and sparked the fire. Seattle Fire Department quickly put it out. Seattle City Light crews then went underground to repair the damage.

Most building within four blocks were able to keep their power on.

Since there's a lot of redundancy in the system, when such incidents happen City Light can usually keep some of the lights on, said Vogel.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 27, 2001.

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