10/29/06 — Transformer fire puts Berkeley in dark Saturday

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Transformer fire puts Berkeley in dark Saturday

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 29, 2006 2:01 AM

A failed transformer caught fire and tripped a feeder line to 1,000 power customers on Berkeley Boulevard around lunch time Saturday.

The outage affected two traffic lights and several businesses, including the Berkeley Mall, on a two-block stretch of Berkeley Boulevard. The power was back on within 35 minutes.

Lt. Vaden Lee said the firefighters at Goldsboro Fire Station No. 5 were called to the transformer on Central Heights Road at the railroad tracks. The transformer had failed and caught fire. The fire spread and started a grass fire around the bottom of the pole.

"We got the fire under control in 10 minutes, and Progress Energy was there and got the power restored right away," he said.

After the firefighters put out the grass fire, the Progress Energy crew used a fire extinguisher on the transformer

Progress Energy Operations Manager Keith Westbrook said the transformer would be taken to the transformer shop in Garner to find out exactly what happened.

"Something inside (the transformer) could have gone bad," he said. "For now, we're calling it 'equipment failure.' There was no evidence a squirrel had gone in there."

The power was off between 12:05 and 12:40 p.m.

Westbrook said transformers have safety features so that, when one fails, it clears itself by locking out the feeder breaker. He compared the safety feature to tripping a breaker in the home, "except it's of a much larger magnitude."