CA Power Substation Fire Spreads to Building

Dec. 15, 2021
Fire damaged an electrical substation, then spread to a building in downtown Sacramento that resulted in a six-block blackout.

Dec. 14—Firefighters on Tuesday quickly responded to a large two-alarm fire burning at a building housing a utility substation in downtown Sacramento.

The fire was burning at a Sacramento Municipal Utility District substation at Sixth and H streets. The was first reported abut 11:45 a.m., and the on-site fire caused "significant damage" to the substation, SMUD announced in a news release.

SMUD immediately de-energized the substation, which shut down electricity for about 1,300 SMUD customers in the downtown area. Based on the amount of damage at the substation, SMUD officials said power will not be restored Tuesday and recommended back-up generators for those who have them.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, there were still about 1,300 SMUD customers without power in the downtown area. SMUD officials said those customers don't appear on SMUD's online outage map, because the downtown area is on a different network.

SMUD officials said they were working to assess the damage and calling all impacted customers.

Radio traffic indicated firefighters waited for SMUD to confirm power equipment was de-energized before starting their attack on the fire. About 25 minutes after the fire started, firefighters said they were gaining control of the blaze.

A plume of smoke was visible across most of downtown after the fire broke out around 11:45 a.m. Multiple street lights went dark and fire dispatch logs indicated multiple calls for elevator assistance in the area.


The Sacramento Fire Department said there were no injuries reported. SMUD confirmed that all employees have been accounted for and there were no injuries reported. SMUD officials said the "root cause" of the fire was unknown and was being investigated.

Fire officials said power was out in a six-block radius around Sixth and H streets. SMUD crews were at the scene assisting firefighters.

Firefighters have contained a small fire on the interior of the building, while other firefighters were working on extinguishing the exterior fire in the SMUD substation yard, according to the Fire Department. Authorities closed H Street heading east from Sixth Street and Sixth Street heading north from I Street.

Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby warned people to avoid the downtown area as the Sacramento Fire Department responded to the blaze at the SMUD power substation. She said traffic lights are out on I and J streets, and several downtown businesses have lost power.


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