Thousands Without Power in Long Beach After Underground Electrical Fire Sends Manhole Covers Into Air

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A series of underground vault fires in the downtown Long Beach area left more than 4,800 customers without power on Wednesday and sent several manhole covers flying into the air, according to Long Beach Fire officials.

Utility crews were working in Long Beach to repair an issue that resulted in several manhole covers blowing into air near the downtown area. (Credit: KTLA)

Utility crews were working in Long Beach to repair an issue that resulted in several manhole covers blowing into air near the downtown area. (Credit: KTLA)

“Citizens should stay inside due to falling debris from manhole covers blowing in the air,” according to an advisory from the Long Beach Police Department.

The issues began around 3:40 p.m. when the Long Beach Fire Department started receiving reports from police of smoke coming up from the vents in manhole covers in the area of Third Street and Chestnut Avenue, according to spokesman Jake Heflin with the Long Beach Fire Department.

When fire crews responded, they found pressurized steam coming from two different manhole covers that involved an underground electrical vault between Magnolia and Chestnut avenues on Third Street, Heflin said.

Fire crews put out the fire, while workers from Southern California Edison attempted to identify the cause of the fire and subsequent power outage, according to a news release from the fire department.

Two additional electrical vaults caught fire, the release stated. The second vault was located at Pacific Avenue and Ninth Street and the third vault was at Pine Avenue and Nardo Way.

All three fires were extinguished. As of 11 p.m. there were no active fires and no smoking vents, Heflin said.

There was no estimate on when power might be restored.

The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific was among those affected by the outage. It was evacuated and closed to the public.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

KTLA’s John A. Moreno contributed to this report.

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