Madison Gas and Electric assessing damage, mechanical issues following fires and explosion

Power still out to more than 3,500 downtown

Madison Gas and Electric officials say they have encountered “a few isolated mechanical issues” as they continue to work to restore power to customers following a fire.

MGE crews took steps earlier today to restore power to customers. In the process of restoring service and transitioning to a normal system configuration, we have encountered a few isolated mechanical issues.

— MadisonGas&Electric (@MGEMadison) July 19, 2019

In tweets Friday afternoon, the company said they are on a “path to full restoration” but that power outages have fluctuated throughout the day.

We’re still on a path toward full restoration, and crews continue to work as quickly as is safely possible. We also continue to conduct a full damage assessment of equipment on our system.

— MadisonGas&Electric (@MGEMadison) July 19, 2019

Officials also say they are conducting damage assessments on equipment at the substation off East Washington Avenue, where the fire and explosion happened Friday morning.

Firefighters knocked down two fires at MG&E substations in the downtown Madison area Friday.

The first fire broke out around 7:40 a.m. at the MG&E substation off East Washington Avenue. This is the company’s main power center in Madison. It also contains equipment for MG&E and American Transmission Company.

MG&E staff said there was an explosion and fire at this substation.

PHOTOS: Fire at MGE E. Main St. Substation

— Madison Fire Dept. (@MadisonWIFire) July 19, 2019

The fire is out but had sent plumes of dark smoke into the air, which could be seen from various points across the city.

MG&E released a statement saying staff believe the fire was caused by mechanical issues and not due to excessive usage from today’s heat.

Crews are working as quickly as possible to safely restore service. We have no reason to believe the cause of the fire is due to excessive usage from today’s high temperatures.

— Madronas&Electric (@MGEMadison) July 19, 2019

In order to put out the fire safely, MG&E needed to shut down power to the station, impacting thousands of customers.

Around 3,500 MG&E customers are currently without power because of this fire. Outages extend from the west side of the Capitol Square to areas around the Yahara River. MG&E employees said a damage assessment is underway. Once it is completed, staff will have a better idea of when power will be restored.

We’re working with our partners at ATC and the Madison Fire Department to investigate the cause. Please continue to avoid the area surrounding East Washington Avenue, East Main Street, South Livingston Street and South Blount Street.

— MadisonGas&Electric (@MGEMadison) July 19, 2019

Madison city leaders are encouraging people to make plans to stay elsewhere in case things are not fixed by tonight. The city, county and state have asked some nonessential employees, headquartered downtown to go home.

City leaders are also asking downtown residents to find a cool spot to spend the day. The Kohl Center is open as a public cooling center until 6 p.m.

Many downtown businesses have also closed because of the fire.

Joel DeSpain, a spokesman for the Madison Police Department, said officers are also asking people to avoid downtown if possible.

With the power out, many downtown street lights are not working creating traffic delays downtown. Officers are also trying to direct traffic at some intersections.

“If you don’t have to come downtown, don’t,” DeSpain said.

Madison firefighters also responded to a second fire in the downtown area, at the east substation near Ogg Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus.

This fire damaged equipment belonging to American Transmission Company but did not appear to have impacted MG&E equipment.

Several campus buildings were briefly evacuated, according to Meredith McGlone, a spokesperson for the university.

This fire also closed parts of Park and Dayton streets, but they have both since reopened, McGlone said.

No injuries were reported in this fire. McGlone said the fire appears unintentional and likely related to the fire at the main MG&E station.

Madison Gas and Electric assessing damage, mechanical issues following fires and explosion

WiscAlert-Fire MG&E substation south of Ogg Hall. Evacuate immediately. Avoid the area. Follow instructions from authorities.

— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) July 19, 2019

The Madison Fire Department is also asking people to avoid this area.

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