A "tidy little fire" in an electrical transformer cut off all power and telephone service to St. John's College yesterday afternoon, canceling seminars, shutting down computers and complicating inaugurationfestivities scheduled for this week.
"It just isn't the week for this to happen. This is the biggest week of the year for the college,with the board of visitors and governors meeting all week and alumniand friends of the college all coming in for Friday's inauguration,"said St. John's spokeswoman Nancy Osius.
Board members are meeting at the college's Annapolis campus to discuss budget cuts, and several hundred alumni and friends of St. John's are expected Friday for the inauguration of President-elect Christopher B. Nelson.
Osius said all nighttime seminars were canceled and school administrators were busy "scouring the town for every flashlight they could find."
A backup generator was brought in to illuminate Randall dining hall so students could congregate and study on the darkened campus.
The "tidy little fire," as Osius put it, beganat 3:34 p.m. and lasted approximately 30 minutes, completely cuttingthe college off from all electric and telephone service.
John Metzger, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said the burned-out 13,000- to 14,000-volt transformer and associated connector cables should be replaced by 7 a.m. today.
The cause of the fire in the transformer, which is near the in
tersection of St. John's and Calvert streets, is under investigation, said Capt. Matthew F. Rogers of the Annapolis Fire Department.
The blaze caused approximately $10,000 worth of damage, he said.