Local News

Power Restored After Substation Fire

Posted March 16, 2007

— Thousands of Raleigh residents were left in the dark for more than two hours Friday night after an electrical substation off Glen Eden Road caught fire, authorities said.

A transformer at the Raleigh Blue Ridge Substation caught fire at about 7:30 p.m. Friday, Progress Energy spokeswoman Melissa Swindell said. Utility officials don't know what caused the fire, she said.

About 41,000 customers in northwest Raleigh were without power at the height of the outage, including Crabtree Valley Mall and the areas around Glenwood Avenue and Blue Ridge and Edwards Mill roads.

"You're talking about enough energy to power a quarter of the city," said Rusty Styons division chief of the Raleigh Fire Department.

No injuries were reported in the incident, and power was completely restored by 10 p.m.

"We're trying to get home, but the road is blocked," nearby resident Will Berry said.

Police had to direct traffic at numerous intersections, and Crabtree Valley Mall was forced to close early.

"The lights just went out, and everything just went pitch black for a while," mall employee Purcell Anderson said. "It's just really wild for the lights to go out, especially in this area."

Swindell said a mobile substation was being brought to the site to help handle demand, and most customers were shifted to other substations to restore power as quickly as possible.

The "relatively modest" fire was quickly contained, but firefighters had to wait until the substation was completely de-energized before they could put it out, Styons said.

"The good news about these substations, while they do create a significant inconvenience to the public with an outage for some number of hours, the truth is they are built intentionally with a lot of safety features," he said. "The safety systems built in ahead of time allow us the luxury to take our time and be safe."

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport's crash fire rescue truck was standing by to spray foam on the fire to neutralize the combustible oils feeding the fire, he said.

The Raleigh Honeycutt Substation, Raleigh Six Forks Substation and Leesville Wood Valley Substation also caught fire Friday night, Swindell said.

Power came back on immediately for customers served by the Honeycutt and Six Forks substations, she said. About 250 customers were without power for a short time because of the Leesville Wood Valley substation, she said.


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  • mrcrosby Mar 18, 2007

    Kriterian, you must be less than 10 years old then. the power has gone off at crabtree valley before, no, it is not some special place that never losses power, it goes off there pretty reguarly. The 10 year old part comes from hurricane Fran, knocked out power to most of the area, including crabtree. But yes, the power goes off there every time it floods, which is about 4 times a year. By the way, bigger things happening in the world, WRAL would rather put this stupid crap on the web-site so that they don't have to do any real work. They don't want to lose their PC label either. BBC has much better news.

  • Joy4u2 Mar 18, 2007

    I live in wake Forest and our power flicked of oand on too werid

  • Kriterian Mar 17, 2007

    My girlfriend and I were right at an exit when the power went out thankfully. The mall was pitch black for maybe 30 seconds before emergency generators kicked in. I've lived here all my life and never seen the power go out at Crabtree, it was very eerie. I wonder if there was anyone in the elevators at the time?

    When we left, via the back by McDonalds, there was a huge plume of smoke billowing across the Beltline.

  • DurhamDude Mar 17, 2007

    Power fluctuated here in Durham around that time. Interesting that we're on Duke Energy too. Maybe Duke Energy was buying power from Progress Energy for this area at the time.

  • mrcrosby Mar 17, 2007

    Any word on what kind of toxins were released in that fire??? There was a huge smoke bloom from it. Knowing that PCB's are common in electrical equitpment, I want to know how many toxic chemicals were released.

  • ncsumurdif Mar 17, 2007

    Yeah b/c of the power surge/outage last night, my computer is now messed up.. What a way to have to fix my freaking computer...

  • Thomas Jefferson Mar 17, 2007

    Does anyone know the actual specifics of why there were (4) substations on fire at the same time?

  • Huey Mar 17, 2007

    Believe it or not but the lights flickered way over in
    Hillsborough also. Caused computer battery backup to
    beep when it cut in.

  • Crystal Amber Mar 16, 2007

    My family and I were at the Hudson Belks in Crabtree when the power went out. We were in the dressing room with my husband when all of the sudden it was pitch black. The kids were scared and we had to dig out mini flashlights in my purse and on my husband's keychain. At that time no one knew what was going on. All the stores had asked customers to leave so that they could secure their store. As we were driving down Edwards Mill Road we saw about 10-15 fire trucks trying to put out the fire at the substation. Now I hear that there were 4 substations on fire at around the same time.... very strange....

  • JOE Wilsoft Market Mar 16, 2007

    Me and my friend went driving when we saw the power went out and we followed people to the fire.. it was amazing.. explosions, leaping flames the whole 9 yards.. and this was only one substation.. scary..