Flames pour from the damaged transformer in Reseda. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Exhausted, dirty crews worked all night and into Sunday morning to restore power to the remaining 94,000 San Fernando Valley residents who were still without electricity — and thus air conditioning — since a key electrical facility was hit by a series of explosions and a spectacular fire.

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Initially, 140,000 residential and commercial DWP customers in Northridge, Winnetka, Reseda, Lake Balboa, Tarzana, North Hills, Granada Hills, Chatsworth, West Hills, Canoga Park and Woodland Hills were affected.

Power was restored to nearly 50,000 of those customers as of 10 p.m. Saturday.

While a record heat wave had backed off a bit by the weekend, temperatures in the affected areas were expected to top out Sunday in the 95 to 100 degree range, making the lack of air conditioning for almost 100,000 valley residents difficult and possibly dangerous.  Overnight lows were in the low to mid 70s.

Officials urged people to check on young, elderly and infirm neighbors who could be endangered by the heat. Cooling centers were in operation in the area.

The blasts and flames were reported just before 7 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power‘s Receiving Station J in the 18900 block of Parthenia Street, Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

[symple_googlemap title=”Transformer fire” location=”18900 Parthenia Street, Los Angeles, Ca” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

Firefighters battled heavy flames and explosions as they tried to get the fire under control. Most of the flames were doused within two hours, DWP spokesman Michael Ventre said.

The fire was in an “energized” storage vault with 50,000 to 60,000 gallons of mineral oil, Humphrey said.

Eighty-four firefighters let the flames burn while DWP workers “de-energized” the facility, stopping the flow of dangerous electicity. Then they put water and foam on the fire, Humphrey said. They did not want to cause more damage by putting water on the flames while the plant was energized with electrical power.

No injuries were reported.

Only one part of the facility was damaged but the entire plant had to be de-energized, the DWP said. Undamaged portions were to be re-energized once the situation stabilized.

Parthenia Street was closed in both directions between Vanalden and Yolanda avenues. Humphrey urged drivers in the area to be cautious going through intersections that might be dark due to the power outages.

People should check the batteries on flashlights and radios in case, he said.

–City News Service

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