A Southern California Edison crew works to restore power in Long Beach. Courtesy of SCE
A Southern California Edison crew works to restore power in Long Beach. Courtesy of SCE

Electricity has been restored to all Southern California Edison customers in downtown Long Beach who had been without power since an underground vault fire and explosion, the second such outage in as many weeks.

However, the transition from temporary generators to Edison’s permanent electrical network is expected to continue Sunday morning, according to Southern California Edison spokeswoman Lauren Bartlett.

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

The last of about 70 utility customers who had been without service today were back online as of 5 p.m. Saturday, according to acting Long Beach public information officer Kerry Gerot.

But customers being switched off generators were warned to expect an additional outage that could last up to 45 minutes.

As part of the search the cause Edison crews, some of them brought in from across the utility’s service area, began systematically checking about 300 underground vaults for potential heating, cable and component abnormalities at about 10 a.m. on Friday, spokeswoman Susan Cox said.

Inspections were completed by about 5:30 p.m. on Friday on all but four vaults, according to Gerot, who said the remaining four were inaccessible and would be examined as soon as possible.

It’s still 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.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has said the outages have had a negative economic impact of up to millions of dollars and wants the situation to be investigated by the state Public Utilities Commission.

— City News Service

 

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