EPB Gets Power Back On After Underground Explosion Sends Smoke Billowing Across From The Aquarium

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Parts of downtown were without power on Tuesday night due to an explosion from an underground transformer at Broad Street and Aquarium Way.

At 4:30 p.m., EPB reported the last 10 fiber optic customers have had their services restored. They estimate to have power restored to the Ben & Jerry’s building by late tonight.

At 11:30 a.m., EPB said it had restored fiber optics services to all but 10 of the impacted customers and expected to complete the remaining restoration by noon.

EPB officials said at 7 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • Following a fire in an electrical vault near Broad Street and Aquarium Way in downtown Chattanooga that was first reported at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday, EPB has restored power to all customers that experienced an electric outage except the Ben and Jerry’s building which is in the immediate vicinity of the incident.
  • EPB has also restored fiber optics services to about 70% of the impacted customers and continues to work as quickly as possible to fully restore those customers that continue to experience a disruption.
  • EPB Field Crews worked through the night and identified a way to outperform our initial estimated time of repair by disconnecting the cables from the damaged vault which allowed us to safely restore power to the whole area.
  • The fire was the result of an equipment failure in an underground electrical vault. There is no way to determine the ultimate cause of the failure.
  • EPB routinely inspects all the equipment in the downtown area and across the system and proactively replaces equipment when potential problems are identified.
  • EPB thanks the Chattanooga Fire Department, Chattanooga Police Department and the City of Chattanooga for their outstanding handling of the situation.

Firefighters were called to the 200 block of Broad Street at 8:17 p.m.

As a result of the incident, power was cut to a significant area - a six-block radius around where this occurred.

Officials said there was no other damage or injuries at this time.

This is impacting traffic lights so the public is asked to avoid the area if possible as crews continuing working. 

Some nearby buildings were evacuated, including the High Point climbing facility.

Passersby said a large billowing of smoke went up just across from the circle drive at the entrance to the Aquarium.

A number of streets nearby were blocked off.

At 9 p.m., officials said the power outage had been extended to Memorial Auditorium on McCallie Avenue down to 601 Walnut, then from 6th Street to Aquarium Way, including Market, Broad and Chestnut. 

 EPB is on the scene. They are waiting for the transformer to cool off to start working on it, officials said.

Officials said at 9 p.m., "There is no active fire at this time. We understand that this leaves many residents and businesses without power - and air conditioning - on a hot/humid evening. Crews are working as quickly as possible to address this matter." 

There were no power outages in either of the Aquarium buildings or the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.


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