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Utility crews restored power to most of the downtown Long Beach on Saturday night, officials said, more than two days after underground electrical fires prompted outages that affected thousands of customers.

Utility crews are seen in downtown Long Beach, where power outages continued on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)
Utility crews are seen in downtown Long Beach, where power outages continued on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Following the restoration, which occurred about 9 p.m., residents and businesses were encouraged to reset their circuit breakers, Southern California Edison said in a news release. The area of the original outage remained without electricity.

The underground fires began shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday and resulted in manhole covers near Third Street and Chestnut Avenue flying into the air as flames and plumes of black smoke emanated from below the street.

Police advised residents in the area to avoid falling debris by remaining indoors while firefighters extinguished the fires. Meanwhile, power was shut off for about 6,000 customers, according to Southern California Edison.

The outages and restoration of power continued intermittently through Thursday, and by Friday morning 3,474 were still in the dark, the utility said.

“If you don’t have to be in the downtown area, stay from the downtown area,” Long Beach Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Brandt advised commuters and pedestrians. Not far from where he was standing, firefighters and Edison workers were attending to a smoldering manhole.

“As Edison starts bringing up power, once in a while they’ll have a little glitch or maybe a circuit that has a problem. That’s what happened here,” Brandt explained. He added that utility workers had “brought the system back down again” and were “going to fix their little issue that they have and then bring the power back up again.”

In a news release, Edison apologized for the inconvenience and duration of the outages but did not specify when power would be fully restored.

“Underground systems are more difficult to evaluate, test and repair than overhead wires and work is progressing as quickly and as safely as possible,” the statement said.

Updates were available on Twitter, by phone at 800-611-1911, online at sce.com/outages and via the utility’s smarphone app. The website also includes a page on which customers can file a claim for losses endured due to outages.

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