Blast triggers blackout

2010-02-17 00:00

A TRANSFORMER at 346 Prince Alfred Street exploded and caught fire at the same time as a switch room at the corner of Prince Alfred and Retief Streets went up in smoke yesterday afternoon.

According to a municipal worker at the scene, the switch room contains another transformer, which carries 11 000 volts, but the transformer did not catch fire.

While this was happening the substation at the corner of Archbell and Commercial Road, which is the biggest in town, also tripped and locked down.

Onlookers at the scene speculated that overloading in one or some of the buildings in the area might have been the cause of the explosion.

“If it’s not overloading then the heat due to high temperatures can be the reason,” said one.

Parts of central Pietermaritzburg were left without electricity for several hours. Traffic police had to direct traffic at major intersections when traffic lights went down.

Msunduzi Municipality electricity process manager Maxwell Mthembu said it is unusual to have three power controllers explode simultaneously.

Mthembu said that all the efforts of the electricity department were directed at repairing the faults, and an investigation into their cause had therefore not been possible.

“This is quite strange,” he said, adding that “our electricians will investigate and identify the problem”.

He ruled out speculation that overloading or high temperatures were the cause of the explosions.

“I would say this is no big deal as we have managed to restore power and every­thing is under control.

“However, an investigation to ascertain the cause of will be undertaken,” he said.

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