New: Fire Causes Power Outage for Berkeley, BART

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday July 11, 2012 - 11:02:00 AM

A power outage that left over 7,000 PG&E customers in Berkeley without power and closed the downtown BART station last night was caused by an underground fire, officials said. 

The fire was reported at 5:30 p.m. in an underground electrical vault in the 1800 block of University Avenue, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. 

About 7,100 residents and businesses in Berkeley lost power, and the downtown BART station was forced to close, with trains running through the station but not stopping. 

The BART station reopened about two hours later, at 7:32 p.m., according to BART. The interruption caused delays throughout the evening on the Richmond to Fremont line. 

PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said that PG&E crews were able to slowly restore power to the affected areas, restoring power to BART at around 6:50 p.m. and eventually completely restoring power at 7:09 p.m. 

The affected streets also included Dwight Way, Telegraph Avenue and Piedmont Avenue, Morris said. 

Dong said that insulating rubber for the electrical wires in the underground vault caught fire, and quickly burned itself out.  

The fire also caused a manhole cover to blow off the street and land 10 feet away from the hole, Dong said. PG&E was called in to assess the damage. 

Firefighters responded to multiple fire alarms set off by the outage and reports of people stuck in elevators, but no injuries were reported.