Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Substation explosion/fire causes electrical fire and smoke at Jefferson County Courthouse due to power surge

Substation explosion causes electrical fire at Jefferson County Courthouse
By Bridget McClure Monday, October 17th 2016

More than 1,000 people were left without power for 11 hours Sunday in Jefferson County after an explosion at a substation, which sparked an electrical fire in the county courthouse.

BROOKVILLE, PA - More than 1,000 people were left without power for 11 hours Sunday in Jefferson County after an explosion at a substation, which sparked an electrical fire in the county courthouse.

Fire officials responded around 1:30 a.m. Sunday to a report of an explosion just off Madison Avenue in Brookville.

"Upon arrival at the substation in that area we were greeted with flames and several explosions throughout the next couple of hours until Penelec officials were able to arrive on scene," Brookville fire Chief Steve Hoak said.

More than 1,200 people were without power until just after 11 a.m. Sunday.

But once the power kicked on, so did more problems.

"When the power started coming back on, there were power surges," county commissioner Jeff Pisarchik said. "In the courthouse we have a transformer that's built into the electrical system. The surges melted a wire and created a lot of smoke."

"I got a call just after 11 a.m. from the 911 Center stating that the power was back on," Hoak said. "I was getting ready to go take the generators off of the traffic lights when an alarm went out for an activated fire alarm at the courthouse."

Several fire departments, including one from Clearfield County, responded.

Hoak said firefighters were greeted by smoke in the hallways coming from the holding cells of the old jail and an odor that indicated an electrical fire.

"It was from the ceiling to the floor, and you couldn't see back the hallway. That's how thick the smoke was," Hoak said.

Pisarchik said electricians fixed the problem and checked out the entire courthouse Sunday, to make sure another such incident doesn't happen.

"It's a historic building. A lot of it's new from renovations a few years ago, but it's just like your house, something is always going to break," Pisarchik said. "We pray nothing breaks, but there's always something that's going to happen. As long as they are minor issues like the ones on Sunday, it's a taxpayers' house, so we're going to take good care of it."


Power restored in Brookville as investigators look into fire at courthouse
By Aimee Lewis Sunday, October 16th 2016


BROOKVILLE, PA -- Investigators are looking into an explosion at a substation that left the borough of Brookville without power and may be linked to a fire that started inside the courthouse.

Officials say the explosion happened around 1:20 AM on Sunday, leaving over 1,200 people without power

Penelec was called to the scene and had the power back up and running around 12:00 PM. But moments before that, fire officials responded to a call from the Jefferson County Courthouse. A fire started in a room near the generator.

"We don't know if the situation at the substation had anything to do with what happened here at the courthouse or if it was just coincidental but we're looking into that and seeing what's going on," said Tracy Zents, the director of Jefferson County Emergency Services.

Officials say the fire started from an electrical problem within the building and are now investigating why the electrical power occurred and if, in fact, the courthouse generator is the cause.

Police say the courthouse was vacant at that time and nobody was injured.

The substation is back to normal and all power is on in Jefferson County.