Apr 25, 2016
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A transformer failure and fire at a PG&E substation in El Cerrito caused more than 45,000 residents and businesses to lose power in the East Bay Monday, according to Bay City News.

The power outage disrupted BART service and traffic signals in Berkeley and also affected residents and businesses in El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo.

According to the BCN report: “The fire started when cables failed inside a new 115,000-volt transformer installed just over the weekend. The 1-inch diameter cables made a loud sound as they failed, prompting some callers to report there had been an explosion.”

About 20 bales of hay — which were set around the transformer during its installation in the case of a coolant leak — were set ablaze due to the failure, an El Cerrito fire official told BCN.

Also as a result of the failure, the Berkeley BART station closed for about two hours, with trains skipping over the station from about 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., according to BART. Many traffic lights lost power, as well, causing some traffic confusion.

PG&E reported power was restored to all customers about 1:10 p.m.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.