.

Salem Explosions, Power Outage Blamed on 'Transformer Overload'

Tuesday's widespread power outage is being blamed on a transformer overload.

A blown transformer on Front Street in Salem Tuesday evening.
A blown transformer on Front Street in Salem Tuesday evening.

Three loud manhole explosions that rocked downtown Salem Tuesday afternoon knocked out power to more than 300 National Grid customers and prompted local officials to evacuate several nearby businesses.

At 3:18 p.m., police and fire units responded to multiple reports of loud explosions and power outages near the intersection of Front and Central streets.

A subsequent investigation by National Grid indicated that the explosions and power outages were not gas related, but due to a transformer overload. The casing on a transformer adjacent to The Boutique was blown from its hinges (photo above).

Salem police also reported that the explosions took place in the sewer system and were later determined to be electrical-related, according to this morning's police log post

Three manhole covers reportedly exploded during the incident, one of which ended up against a vehicle. There were no injuries.

Manhole Blasts: Did You Hear Them?

Did you lose power Tuesday afternoon? 

Let us know in the comments section below.
Mike Caggiano January 07, 2014 at 11:33 PM
That doesn't really explain why the manholes blew, does it? Boston had this issue years ago. These sewer lines are very old and we just had lots of rain and then freezing weather plus national grid was laying lines on Derby Streey today and they were underground yesterday in front of Salem laundry. I'm sure it's all connected somehow.
Rob January 08, 2014 at 12:20 AM
I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT, LOLOL. LOOK AT ALL THOSE ELECTRICAL LEADS CONNECTED TO THAT ONE TRANSFORMER. FOR MANHOLES TO EXPLODE, YOU HAVE AN UNDERGROUND TRUNK LEAD IN IS THAT MANHOLE, GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW OLD THAT ELECTRICAL LEAD IS, ALL IT REALLY TAKES IS ONE ARC, A COMPOSED BUILDUP OF OXYGEN AND METHANE GAS INSIDE THE MANHOLE AND YOU HAVE A MASSIVE EXPLOSION, THAT LEAD THAT WAS INSIDE THE MANHOLE OBVIOUSLY ARCED OUT AND SIMULTANEOUSLY BOTH BLEW UP THE TRANSFORMER AND THE MANHOLE.
Jeffrey Brooks January 08, 2014 at 09:57 AM
If the explosion is due to an overload like National Grid is reporting then the overload was most likely caused by a short circuit either on the line or transformer. Due to their high expense, high voltage transformers are normally fused to protect them. It's hard to say what came first the chicken or the egg. The initial ignition source and cause of the explosion may have been what the other commenter said, something National Grid did under the street, a defective line combined with a methane leak, or it could have been caused by a faulty transformer. Transformers are supposed to have routine preventive maintenance, to include checking the oil levels and testing of its viscosity. Also the copper buss bars should be infra-red tested to check for "hotspots" due to loose connections. We saw what happened downtown Boston, a couple of years ago when transformers are neglected and it crippled a section of the city. With the deregulation of much of the power industry, many carrier companies such as National Grid are cutting out some of its preventive maintenance practices. Similar to what happened over at the Salem Power plant when three workers died as a result of a steam line rupture on a section of the boiler that wasn't opened up for inspection in nine years. Hopefully National Grid will be able to due a full investigation with the remnants of what's left of the line and report back to the city with its findings. Lets be thankful no one got hurt this time.
Don Nadeau January 09, 2014 at 11:52 AM
" Region 1944, the respectably large region now near center disk, produced a R3 (Strong) Solar Flare Radio Blackout event at 1832 UTC (1:32 p.m. EST) on January 7th, following a R2 (Moderate) event earlier in the day. " -NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center alert on Tuesday at 1:37 pm The "disk" is the sun, the sunspot Region 1944 is bigger than the earth. They warn that strong events can cause charging of electrical equipment. Coincidence? Also, They warned that a plasma blob from the flare is "hurtling" toward us but had not arrived by dawn, so we didn't have Northern Lights last night.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something