Fire underground causes evacuation, power outages

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An underground electrical fire caused widespread power outages and at least one evacuation on Wednesday.

Tom Francis, the spokesman for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, said crews were notified around 9:40 a.m. of smoke rising from manholes in the 200 block of Riverside Ave.

The First Coast YMCA tweeted at the time that it was evacuating people from inside its Yates location as a safety precaution.

Once on scene, emergency crews discovered that a single JEA transformer was on fire for an unknown reason.

Jerri Boyce, a spokeswoman for the JEA, said the agency voluntarily shut off six separate electrical circuits to ensure crews could put out the fire safely.

Approximately 100 customers were expected to be without power for several hours. Some customers, including the Federal Reserve, have had power restored. Others like the Florida Times-Union, American Red Cross of Northeast Florida, the Yates YMCA, CSX and Haskell have not had power reserved yet.

The Times-Union posted the following notice on its Facebook page:

Boyce said the power outages stretch through the Riverside area from downtown Jacksonville to sections of historic Five Points.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said traffic signals were out at the following intersections until about 2:55 p.m.: Adams Street and Clay Street, Pearl Street and Water Street, Broad Street and Monroe Street, Broad Street and Duval Street, Broad Street and Church Street, Broad Street and Ashley Street and Broad Street and Adams.

JSO tweeted that drivers should treat intersections without a working signal as a four-way stop.

The 200 block of Riverside Ave. and the exit ramp from the Acosta Bridge onto Riverside are also closed.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority tweeted that the Skyway is temporarily out of service because of the fire. Customers can go to Skyway stations to receive bus service.

There were no injuries reported with the fire.

Boyce said it would be at least early afternoon before power was restored. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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