Photo archive (partial)

Buy prints, downloads, or license images from our archives:

St. Mary's Fire Sunday, December 17, 2006

A PGE technician walks past a burning transformer at the St. Mary's electrical substation at 1785 SW 158th St. in Beaverton on Saturday night. Hundreds of homes from the Pearl District to Beaverton, Hillsboro and Gaston lost power due to the fire. The MAX line also lost power and was shut down west of the Beaverton Transit Center. Tri-Met was running shuttle buses to move passengers between there and Hillsboro.

Large areas of Beaverton and Hillsboro lost power on Saturday night after a transformer caught fire at the St. Mary's electrical substation on SW 158th St. in Beaverton at about 7:30. Customers as far away as Gaston and the Pearl District downtown also lost power after Portland General Electric technicians de-energized the other two transformers at the substation.

Christmas shoppers were caught in the dark in commercial districts in the affected areas, and traffic was backed up at several major intersections where signal lights were out.

Roads in the vicinity of the fire were closed by police while PGE crews tried to determine the cause of the fire. Tom Van Hoon, a supervisor with PGE, said that security video showed equpiment failure caused the fire, not suspicious activity. They would have to wait until the transformer completely cooled down to inspect it and identify a more specific cause.

"Right now, we just can't get close enough to it," he said.

PGE crews and fire fighters from the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue planned to wait for the fire to burn itself out. A foam truck from Portland International Airport was on standby to respond, but they didn't expect to need it.

Equipment failures of this magnitude are very rare, said Van Hoon. Damage from the fire is expected to be "millions."

Power had been restored to most of the affected areas by midnight. Tri-Met crews expected to have the MAX train running its regular schedule by morning.


Matthew said...

Thanks to Pierce & Erin for the newstip. Thanks to Stacey for navigating.

Mark M. Hancock said...

I like how the individual fires give it a feeling of depth (rather than one huge fire).
Also, good job on the reporting.