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UPDATE: Large Fire Hits Redmond Power Substation

The blaze was fueled by 15,000 gallons of mineral oil, according to Puget Sound Energy.

Fire and utility crews responded Thursday afternoon to a large transformer fire at a power substation in Redmond that belched thick, black smoke that could be seen from as far away as Seattle.

The blaze, reported at 12:30 p.m., knocked out power to 25,000 customers in Redmond, Kirkland and Woodinville, according to a spokeswoman for Puget Sound Energy. It was extinguished at approximately 2:15 p.m., and all power was restored at 3:15 p.m., according to PSE.

No injuries were reported in the fire at the substation at Willows Road N.E.

PSE spokeswoman Martha Monfried said 15,000 gallons of mineral oil that fill the 10-year-old transformer were burning, but the utility said the oil is not hazardous. Two other transformers were shut down as a precaution.

"In the last 40 years, we've never had anything like this happen," Monfried said. "So it's fairly unusual."

PSE has an environmental crew on the scene as a precaution, even though the mineral oil is not toxic. The oil is used to cool the voltage that comes through the transformer, she said.

Monfried said it's too soon to say what sparked the blaze.

Redmond firefighters were first to respond to a report of an explosion, said city fire spokesman Jim Bove. They had to call in a fire truck with foam from the Port of Seattle because water wasn’t putting out the flames. PSE could not confirm that an explosion took place.

Clark Masterson, who works near the substation, said he went to a Subway sandwich shop on Willows Road for lunch at 12:20 p.m. and saw flames 30 to 40 feet high.

“We could see them over the trees,” he said.

Bove said no one was on site at the time of the fire. Nearby buildings weren't evacuated, but some businesses shut down because they lost power.

Nothing criminal is suspected, but "we'll be investigating just to be sure," Bove said.

Glenna June 16, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Really nasty traffic in Kirkland due to traffic light outages and heavy volume of people leaving work early.
Bree June 17, 2011 at 12:03 AM
At around 1:00pm we could see the smoke near Microsoft and drove toward it to see what was going on. Traffic was backed up due to police blocking Willows Road. We parked and walked to the scene. Black plumes of smoke were rising from flames at the power substation.
Chalen Maarten June 17, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Just now at 5:40 p.m., several fire trucks and ambulances returned to the site. Thinner, lighter smoke visible for miles. KOMO reports rumors of a flare-up.
Chalen Maarten June 17, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Glenna, were any lights flashing red, or was it just a power outage?
Caitlin Moran June 17, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Hi C Maarten, I did just speak to Jim Bove, the fire department's spokesman, and he wasn't able to confirm the reports of a flare-up. I'll post an update if I hear anything more. Thanks for reading.
Chalen Maarten June 17, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Smoke is no longer visible. Thanks, Caitlin.
Caitlin Moran June 17, 2011 at 06:49 PM
OK, I was able to confirm the flare-up this morning. More info: http://patch.com/A-j0nW.

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