PORTLAND — Extensive repairs in an underground electrical vault were completed early Wednesday morning and the power was back on within hours to an eight-block area of downtown that was dark for 72 hours.
Sunday morning’s explosion and fire put a halt to business for the city and county. It also meant a loss of holiday sales to the tune of millions of dollars.
PGE crews with specialized equipment worked in tight spaces in the vaults to make repairs and get the juice flowing again. They have no reason to believe that sabotage was involved in the underground explosion.
The utility’s Steve Corson says one of the challenges in getting the electricity restored was repairing destroyed equipment. He says the incident was “pretty unusual”.
“We haven’t had an outage of this magnitude in the downtown core area for 25 or 30 years,” said Corson.
The impact of the blast blew off a manhole cover at Southwest 5th & Taylor, knocking out electricity to nearly twenty blocks. Most though had their power back by that night. 4th and 5th avenues between Morrison and Jefferson remained dark with police guarding intersections and Max trains stopping at every block for safety.
City Hall, Multnomah County Courthouse and the Portland Building were closed on Monday and Tuesday, but re-opened on Wednesday. The court administrator says it could take two to three months to get through the backlog of cases.
Pioneer Place’s Atrium Pavilion was closed and lost holiday business while others operated on generators or not at all.