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Mini-explosion lights up WeHo

By Aaron Blevins, 1/21/2013

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A downed power line on Robertson Boulevard sparked a small explosion just west of West Hollywood Park at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. While startling, the blast did not cause any injuries or significant property damage.

With a live, downed power line in the area, there was little that first responders could do to extinguish the fire. (photo by Aaron Blevins)

Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Jason Hurd, of Fire Station 7, said the high-tension power line snapped in half after coming into contact with a seagull, which died. One half fell onto a nearby tree on the west side of the boulevard, while the other rested in the roadway. The tree caught fire, and firefighters sprayed the tree with short bursts of water.

“We wanted to keep it from spreading to the adjacent trees,” Hurd said. “We try not to direct it right at the power line.”

The tree fire essentially extinguished itself, but the power line in the road ignited shortly thereafter, inching closer to cars parked on the east side of the roadway. As a crowd of Ultra Suede patrons and park visitors were photographing and watching the incident, the ignited power line set off a small explosion that sent firefighters and the crowd looking for cover.

Hurd said there was no confirmed property damage, though he had been told that one or two buildings on North La Peer Drive may have sustained some computer system damage. He said damage to the parked cars was very minor, though the power line did touch one.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies had Robertson Boulevard completely closed down from Melrose Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard during the hour-long incident.

The fires resulted in power outages for 328 Southern California Edison customers, spokesperson Paul Klein said. Outages were south of Santa Monica Boulevard, north of Alden Drive, east of Doheny Drive and west of Huntley Drive, he said.

By 5:17 p.m., power had been restored to all but five customers, who were in close proximity to the fire, Klein said. He said power was restored to the remaining customers by 8:31 a.m. on Sunday.

Klein said the utility is still working to resolve the situation entirely. He said that as of Monday, all of the downed power lines had been removed, and workers were making additional repairs. Klein could not say how long it took for Southern California Edison to disconnect the electricity to the downed power line, but said the incident was not the first time a rodent or bird had affected the utility’s equipment.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a common occurrence, but it does happen,” he added.

To view a video of the incident, click here: West Hollywood power line fire.

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