File photo.
File photo.

About 70 Long Beach customers remain without electricity Saturday after Thursday’s underground vault explosion, as crews work toward an expected complete restoration by sometime Saturday afternoon.

At least 30,000 customers initially were affected by the vault fire, which occurred at 4:15 p.m. Thursday near 10th Street and Pine Avenue, Susan Cox of Southern California Edison said.

SCE officials said they are placing generators in areas that do not have power. They added that the community center at Cesar Chavez Park, at 401 Golden Ave., was reopened at 8 a.m. to distribute ice and water.

“There are currently 10 generators in place serving business and residents,” according to an SCE statement. “As the underground network system is restored, we will transition these customers off the generators. When this happens, they will experience a short power outage which could last up to 45 minutes.”

SCE crews, some of them brought in from across SCE’s service area, began systematically checking about 300 underground vaults for potential heating, cable and component abnormalities at about 10 a.m. on Friday, Cox said. Those inspections were completed by about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, according to SCE.

The outage area Thursday was roughly bounded by Spring Avenue to Shoreline Drive and Santa Fe Avenue to Alamitos Avenue, according to acting Long Beach Public Information Officer Kerry Gerot.

It’s unclear what caused the blast, but Cox said the problem was similar to underground electrical vault fires that knocked out power to 4,800 customers on July 15.

In that case, service wasn’t restored until July 19. No injuries were reported as a result of those fires, but some cast-iron manhole covers were blasted into the air and came down amid midday traffic.

—City News Service

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