Underground Fire Causes Eight Downtown Grand Rapids, MI Buildings to be Evacuated

Courtesy of WOOD News - Grand Rapids, MI
Video: WOOD TV Newspic.gif

Grand Rapids, MI -- Police and fire crews evacuated seven buildings in downtown Grand Rapids today, after an underground fire blew three manhole covers sky high.

WOOD News - Grand Rapids, MI

It was about 1:30 p.m. when a fire broke out in a power transformer, part of an underground electrical vault on the east side of Ionia between Pearl and Fountain.

Police and fire crews evacuated workers and students from buildings along Ionia, Pearl, Fountain, and Division Streets because of concern of smoke seeping into basements. For most of the afternoon, police set up a perimeter along Fulton, Pearl, Ionia and Ottawa. Police also closed several parking garages, leaving many of the evacuees without a place to go, or a way to get home.

All streets were re-opened shortly after 6 p.m.

WOOD News - Grand Rapids, MI

It took fire crews about three hours to get the fire under control, they opened a few of the surrounding streets and let people back into get their cars. Crews are still investigating what caused the fire.

The fire also impacted bus service, after the Rapid Transit Center had to be evacuated. All buses were running again by 6:00 p.m.

Fire officials evacuated the following buildings: 29 Pearl -- Federal Square Building
40 Pearl -- Trust Building
110 Ionia
82 Ionia -- Kent County Courthouse
89 Ionia
17 Fountain -- Kendall College Gallery
111 N. Division -- Kendall College