Electrical explosion blacks out part of downtown Annapolis ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY--Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

July 15, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A short in an underground electrical cable beneath an Annapolis street caused an explosion yesterday morning that knocked out power to about a third of the downtown area for 1 1/2 hours.

The 9:30 a.m. explosion at the corner of West and Cathedral streets was powerful enough to dislodge a 400-pound concrete manhole cover set in a metal frame on a sidewalk.

There were no injuries, fire officials said, and no damage was reported.

"That was fortunate, because the manhole that blew up is right on the sidewalk," said Capt. Leonard A. Clark of the Annapolis Fire Department.

The intersection of West, Calvert and Cathedral streets was closed for nearly two hours. Firefighters had to clear the underground tunnel of a considerable amount of smoke before utility workers could enter to begin repairs, Captain Clark said.

The short may have been related to the recent hot weather.

"There is a load on the system and that can cause a power short," Captain Clark said.

Workers at Gateway Florist in front of the blast site said they didn't hear the explosion but knew something was wrong when their lights went out.

"I went outside and the big manhole cover there was lying in the street and smoke was coming out," said Gail Coe, owner of the flower shop. "We made one fruit basket in the dark."

Ms. Coe said she was thankful the power came on quickly, before a lack of refrigeration ruined about $5,000 worth of flowers in stock.

Power was interrupted to about 8,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric customers, said Art Slusark, a BG&E spokesman.

The areas affected included West Street from Church Circle to Cathedral Street, Main Street to the City Dock and Duke of Gloucester Street to the Eastport Bridge.

The power was restored to most customers, except those in the immediate area around the blast, by 10:50 a.m.

All power was back by shortly before 11:30 a.m., Mr. Slusark said.

Power at the Anne Arundel Medical Center was interrupted for only about two seconds, said hospital spokeswoman Nancy Hemby.

The hospital is fed by two electric lines, and the power system automatically switched to the line not affected by the electrical short.

The electrical mishap was preceded by another short in the same line last Thursday that knocked out power to customers in the first block of West Street for four hours, Mr. Slusark said.

A defective cable caused a fire in an underground vault that sent smoke pouring out of a manhole cover.

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