Underground fire leaves Downtown businesses, residents without power

An underground power vault fire left some businesses and homes near Downtown without power for nearly an hour late Saturday afternoon.

The outage stretched from Linden Avenue to Pine Avenue between Sixth Street and Eighth Street, according to LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin.

The fire broke out underground in the 400 block E. Sixth street, Heflin said.

Nancy Araceli, a local resident, said she was sleeping when her husband told her that the power was out in her house.

“There was an explosion and something flew out,” Araceli said. “We didn’t know what it was then we noticed fire department lifting a manhole cover and smoke coming out of there.”

Heflin said that the power went out at 4:05 p.m., and that crews from Southern California Edison were restarting the power grid by 4:34 p.m. It was not immediately clear how long the power would be out.

The power outage started at 3:16 p.m. due to equipment failure, SCE spokeswoman Julia Roether said. The outage originally affected 1,262 customers.

As of 7 p.m., there were 24 customers still in the dark with crews working to restore the power. Roether said there was no estimate as to when power will be fully restored.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The city experienced a series of blackouts in the summer of 2015 after at least two underground explosions in the Downtown area sent manhole covers flying into the air.

Shortly after the incidents—which happened in the midst of a heat wave—SCE said it was securing about 300 manhole covers with cables to prevent that from happening again.

At the time, aging infrastructure was to blame, Heflin said.

No injuries were reported and some crews are still on the scene attempting to restore power.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from Southern California Edison concerning the power outage.

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