Manhole fire causes power outages in downtown St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – It should be back to business as usual Friday morning for St. Louis City courts and offices following a power outage in downtown Wednesday night.

A cable failure and fire in a manhole cut off electricity to 2,100 customers in a more than 80-square block area.

Ameren Missouri called the outage “unusual.” The utility brought in overnight crews to begin temporary repairs. That was completed by 1 p.m. Thursday and by 5 p.m. all but one major office building had power restored.

Both the city and Ameren Missouri will evaluate how they responded to the emergency. St. Louis City Hall, West City Hall at 1520 Market, and the Carnahan Courthouse were closed for the day. None of those buildings have sufficient emergency power to remain open.

Mayor Francis Slay’s spokesperson Maggie Crane said the city’s Emergency Management Agency will look at public safety issues surrounding the accidental fire and power outage. Some workers and residents were unable to leave their parking garages because of the outage. In other cases elevators stopped running and restaurants had to close.

At the Schnucks downtown Culinaria grocery store, fresh and frozen produce items were moved to refrigerated trucks when the power went off. Some building managers brought in emergency generators to power air conditioning and lights.

Dave Wakeman, Ameren Missouri’s customer operations senior vice president, said the company’s engineers and field employees made sure the temporary repairs would last through the high heat Thursday and through the weekend.

St Louis City workers dug a trench down Seventh Street so Ameren could install temporary electric cables to bypass the damaged manhole. Once Ameren workers can get into that manhole and inspect it they will begin the permanent repair work.

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