PECO restores power to customers after Center City underground fire

Annie McCormick Image
Saturday, February 13, 2016
VIDEO: Underground fire
PECO restored service to the remaining customers without power Friday night, officials said.

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- PECO officials said service was restored Friday night to remaining customers without power after a fire erupted underground in Center City Thursday night, affecting homes and businesses.

Residents in the 2100 block of Walnut Street are still talking about the rattle and boom and underground fire that pumped thick black smoke through drains and manholes.

Bea Bobinger lives on the block, and tells us, "There was a big boom, the ground shook, and big fireball, and they hustled all of us out, got us evacuated out of the street."

Action News viewer Chris Peters sent us video from the scene:

The fire began around 5:30 p.m., and overnight into Friday crews continued to work to restore power.

At the height of the outages, 400 customers were in the dark. Many waited inside area businesses last night.

Even the Merriam Theatre, located blocks away, had to turn away some ticketholders because emergency lighting was knocked out.

Overnight PECO was able to restore some power, but not in Dusty Patten's apartment.

Patten says, "I was really cold, and not having any water this morning wasn't fun getting ready to work, but gotta go to work now."

Unfortunately for residents without power and for PECO employees working outside, the fire and outage coincided with arctic temperatures.

Several businesses on the block were also affected.

With Valentine's Day just days away, one of the businesses on the block is a florist, who told us they were too busy to speak with us on camera. They were without power and water, but still trying to get their orders out.

Officials at PECO say they are still investigating a cause of the fire.

The crews were working between 21st and 22nd streets on Friday to replace damaged underground cables.