An explosion in an underground “vault” containing electric power equipment suddenly shut down electricity in downtown Santa Monica and left parts of the area without power for days. The Santa Monica Fire Department responded at 5:04pm Saturday afternoon, July 22, when two manhole covers blew – one in Santa Monica Blvd. and the other in the nearby alley between 2nd St. and the Third St. Promenade just south of Santa Monica – and fire erupted in the concrete room that housed the equipment.
Without electricity, people were trapped in elevators, and numerous fire alarm bells went off. The bells were triggered by the loss of power, but there were no fires except the original vault fire, which was controlled and extinguished. Elevator extractions were completed within 25 minutes, according to Fire Department spokesman Captain Scott Ziegert, but electrical power remained out Tuesday afternoon, July 25, on parts of Santa Monica Blvd. and westerly portions of the Promenade.
SMFD sent three engine companies, one truck company with special lighting and compressed air equipment and one paramedic ambulance to the scene, but there were no reported injuries or physical property damage (except to the vault). The Los Angeles City Fire Department also responded, and assisted with the elevator rescues. Santa Monica Police Department officers cleared vehicles and pedestrians from Santa Monica Blvd. between Ocean Ave. and 4th St.
Southern California Edison arrived on the scene at 6:40pm Saturday and has been working to repair damaged lines and restore power to the area. Although initial Saturday estimates were that it could take up to 24 hours to restore power, repairs had not been completed by press time, and Edison told the Fire Department that power should be restored on Friday morning, July 28. Street closures continue in the area.