MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
A shopping center and residents in Seat Pleasant were evacuated briefly this afternoon as a precaution after personnel were cautioned of a potential underground transformer explosion. The scenario started at around 12:30 pm, Friday, February 8, when a large tree fell onto power lines in Camp Springs resulting in about 25,000 PEPCO customers in Prince George's County losing electric power. At about the same time Firefighters from Seat Pleasant were dispatched to investigate an underground electric transformer in the rear of the Addison Plaza in the 6200 block of Central Avenue. The transformer was reported to be making loud noises, vibrating and issuing a heavy electrical odor. Power in the Seat Pleasant and Capitol Heights area, including the shopping center, were without power.
A PEPCO employee arrived quickly and cautioned firefighters that there was a possibility that the transformer may explode and it would be powerful. Heeding the warning of the PEPCO employee additional Fire/EMS units and incident commanders were alerted to assist the Seat Pleasant Firefighters and an evacuation of about a dozen stores and an adjacent 20 homes on 68th Place was initiated. The evacuation was conducted in a very orderly fashion and without incident. County Police and Seat Pleasant Police Officers shut down roadways and access to the immediate area while crews worked on the evacuation and mitigation of the underground transformer issue.
After operating on the scene for about 30 minutes power was restored to the area which re-energized the transformer and mitigated any imminent emergency. Stores and residents were allowed to return to their place of business and homes.
It is believed that when electric power was initially lost a generator in one of the larger stores started operating. A transmission line malfunctioned allowing electricity to be back-fed from the generator to the transformer causing it to react in an abnormal fashion. PEPCO officials were working with store officials to have the problem corrected.
Throughout the course of the incident no injuries were reported.