Black smoke and the smell of electrical fire blew through the heart of Downtown Erie.
A stubborn blaze has left 800 customers without electricity for an unknown timeframe and Penelec crews with a big repair job.
An underground electrical fire broke out near 10th and state. The road surrounding that intersection continue to be blocked off.
People in the area are reporting black smoke appearing from the sidewalk of the area. With the power being shut off at the scene, the only lights visible were from the emergency vehicles.
Calls for this fire came in around 5:55 p.m.
Erie Firefighters found flames and heavy smoke pouring from the electrical vault under the sidewalk of State Street and north of 10th Street.
To isolate the problem and de-energize the burning lines, Penelec crews shut down the power to a significant portion of Downtown Erie.
Erie County 911 reported that the area extended from Holland Street west to Sassafras Street and from 18th Street North to the Bayfront.
According to the deputy fire chief on scene, they were keeping a close eye on the basement of a nearby building to make sure that the fire did not spread.
While the fire burned that was not the only issue.
“The main thing we can do is stand by for Penelec, keep everybody away from the area, watch the manhole covers. We just had a bunch of those blow up like an hour ago. Here’s a lot of potential for injury so we need to keep people away,” said Deputy Chief Mike Fahey, Erie Fire Department.
According to a spokesperson from Penelec, the problem appears to have been caused by a failed transformer.
Penelec tells us that they are waiting for the vault and area surrounding it to cool down before doing a full assessment.
At this time they hope to have power restored downtown late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
This is a developing story and we will have more details as information becomes available.
Update: Erie Fire Department will be shutting down power to the majority of the downtown area around 7:30 p.m. It is unknown at this time how long the power will be turned off. Penelc recently stated that they are cautiously optimistic that they will have power restored by daylight as they have been able to access the vault that the transformer is in as well as nearby vaults to assess any damage. The power outage will effect the area of 18th to Bayfront and Sassafras to Holland Streets.
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